Edmonton storm causes collisions, traffic tangles

Edmonton's first major snowstorm of the season is causing problems for drivers on city roads.
Snow started falling in the Edmonton area just before the start of Friday morning's rush hour. ((CBC))
Edmonton's first major snowstorm of the season caused big problems for drivers all day Friday.

"It didn't start snowing this morning until about 6 a.m., so we immediately started putting product on the road for abrasion," said Bob Dunford, the city's director of roadway maintenance.

"You can't really start plowing until you've got accumulation, and of course the accumulation was going to hit about the middle of rush hour."

The snow made steep hills from the river valley into downtown almost impossible to navigate. All morning Friday, there were reports that all the major hills were jammed with cars trying to make the climb.

Some vehicles needed a push to climb the steep hills leading into downtown Edmonton, like this one on 105th Street on Friday morning.
"A lot of people are having trouble with it," said Scott Vatcher, who helped push some vehicles. "It would be best if people knew not to come up the hill in the first place."

Edmonton police received reports of more than 51 collisions, with five causing injuries.

Transit users also endured delays, with buses up to an hour behind schedule.

City crews planned to concentrate their cleanup efforts on hills and bridges, particularly in the river valley, said Dunford.

"Once the winds stop blowing and the snowfall ends, our crews will be able to get a better handle on plowing and sanding other priority routes." he said.

By the evening rush hour, most of the chaos caused by snow on Edmonton streets had subsided. ((CBC))
The storm caused delays at the Edmonton International Airport but officials worried the situation could get worse due to a ripple effect created by major delays at the airport in Calgary.

"If you take a look at a particular aircraft that's going to many different cities throughout the day, and if one of those routings is cancelled in Calgary …  that could mean that we don't have a particular aircraft that we need later on out of Edmonton," said Edmonton Airports spokesperson Traci Bednard.

"Try to look at your options and do that early because we do expect those flights will become booked up later today and into the weekend," she said.

Greyhound Canada said it has not cancelled any bus routes but will leave it up to drivers whether to stay on the roads. Three drivers on their way to Calgary from Edmonton parked in Red Deer on Friday afternoon because of poor road conditions. 

RCMP not recommending travel

 The Alberta Motor Association issued highway alerts for Edmonton, Calgary, central, northern and southern Alberta, as well as the Rocky Mountain parks.

RCMP have warned drivers that Highway 2 is in very poor condition and travel is not recommended.

Airdrie RCMP have reopened the northbound and southbound lanes of Highway 2 between Calgary and Balzac after collisions forced them to close the road earlier Friday, but are still warning people not to travel.

Collisions also prompted Okotoks RCMP to close a section of Highway 2 south of Calgary at Highway 2A, as well as Highway 7 west of Okotoks. The highways were reopened later Friday afternoon.