More than a dozen vehicles had to be taken away by tow trucks after a series of pileups in "total whiteout conditions" Friday morning on Highway 125 in Sydney.
Cape Breton Regional Police and emergency responders were called to the scene of a seven-vehicle crash between exits 2 and 3 — the King Street exit and the Seaview Drive exit at Leitches Creek Station.
Seven vehicles collided and nine other vehicles went off the road, police said.
'Sitting in a cloud'
Police say there were no serious injuries but some people were taken to hospital as a precaution.
North Sydney Fire Chief Lloyd MacIntosh said it is fortunate people only had "bumps, bruises and a few sprains."
He said in his 31 years of service, he's never seen road conditions this bad. Wind off a nearby lake whipped up the snow, creating a wall of white.
"The road was clear and the visibility was clear in front of you for a couple hundred feet, and it would turn instantly to zero. And I mean zero visibility. You were just sitting in a cloud or cotton batten. Just total whiteout conditions," he said.
"You literally couldn't see your hand in front of you. I've never seen it like that."
Many of the vehicles were "severely damaged" as one after another plowed into the vehicle in front of them, he said.
Getting to the scene was a challenge for first responders and some of their vehicles were also involved in collisions, MacIntosh said.
The section of highway was closed to traffic for several hours and reopened around 12 p.m. Police are advising people to drive with caution and stay off the roads if possible.
MacIntosh said during the closure, his crews went up and down the lines of traffic to provide reassurances to drivers.
Traffic backed up
Melanie Clarke was driving into Sydney to go to work around 8:30 a.m. when she came upon the crash.
She said there were a dozen vehicles ahead of her and she could barely see the scene.
"Roads were very slippery and there was zero visibility," she said from her vehicle.
At 10:30 a.m., she said the road remained backed up.
"There's still whiteout conditions. I'm not all that far from the North Sydney turn off but I cannot see the turnoff or the bridge area," she said.