Deerfoot Trail has reopened after it was closed in both directions between Stoney Trail S.E. and Glenmore Trail in Calgary, as emergency crews dealt with multiple crashes involving dozens of vehicles on Saturday afternoon.
Between 6 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, there were 284 crashes reported to police, with 34 involving injuries.
EMS said that as of 4:30 p.m. Saturday, eight people had been taken to hospital — all in non-life-threatening condition — because of crashes on the Deerfoot.
The first multi-vehicle crashes on Deerfoot Trail happened around 11 a.m. Saturday — about the time snow started to fall — involving several vehicles near the 16th Avenue overpass.
Another multi-car crash happened soon after near Deerfoot Trail and Memorial Drive.
That was followed by another reported at Deerfoot Trail and 32nd Avenue N.E.
As crash reports continued to flood in, police made the decision to close the highway in both directions between McKnight Blvd. and Anderson Rd. just after noon, and drivers were cautioned to avoid the area.
The highway was not fully reopened until approximately 7:30 p.m. Saturday evening.
Police later said on social media they were coordinating with Carmacks, which handles maintenance of the highway, to do an echelon plow of the closed section — staggering plows across the road to clear it quicker — in an effort to speed up the process of reopening.
For those curious what an echelon plow is, it is a small group of staggered plows working to clear all lanes at once. This picture of it was just taken by one of our officers on Deerfoot as we work with crews to get it reopen. #yycroads #yyctraffic #yyc pic.twitter.com/2vd6e2MAaV— @CalgaryPolice
Gary Brooks, division manager of maintenance with Carmacks, said that in the approximately 18 years he's dealt with Deerfoot Trail, he's only seen closures of this scale "maybe two or three times."
"Anytime you get heavy daytime snowfall, especially on a Saturday with people rushing to get somewhere, you'll see situations like this," he said.
Saturday's forecast called for temperatures to fall to –23 C by the evening and the snow to continue falling throughout the day.
A snowfall warning was issued by Environment Canada on Saturday afternoon which included Banff, Canmore, Calgary, Okotoks, High River and the Crowsnest Pass.
Up to 20 centimetres of snow is expected to fall in the mountain region and up to 10 centimetres in Calgary, with the snowfall expected to taper off through the evening.
On Sunday, officials said a snow route parking ban will come into effect at 9 a.m. Monday.
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