Calgary

Bad weather hampers holiday plans on busy travel day

Travellers flying out for the holidays were met with delays at Calgary International Airport on Friday, typically one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Some flights delayed about 45 minutes due to snow and ice, others up to two hours

Travellers check in at Calgary International Airport on Friday. Snow and ice were causing delays of about 45 minutes for some flights. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

Travellers flying out for the holidays were met with delays at Calgary International Airport on Friday, typically one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Some flights saw delays of about 45 minutes throughout the day. Some planes were forced to wait as long as two hours as grounds crews worked to keep runways free of snow and planes de-iced.

Michael Parker was on his way to London Gatwick airport, but had a two-hour delay, and was taking things in stride.

"It's part of the holiday season I guess," he said, waiting in the newly-opened international terminal. "It's not a big deal, it's not the airline's fault."

Laurie Edward and her five-year-old son, Rhys Glover, were headed to St. Lucia, via Chicago.

Edward drove in from Canmore and said leaving extra early made things go fairly smooth for them.

"The highway out of downtown to the airport was definitely busy and it was getting a little hairy," she said. "A lot of snow on the road and traffic."

Laurie Edward and her five-year-old son, Rhys Glover, were flying to St. Lucia, via Chicago, on Friday, one of the busiest travel days of the year. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

Between midnight and 1:30 p.m. Friday, Calgary police said there were 59 crashes, including three involving injury.

City roads spokeswoman Anna Melnick said upwards of 100 pieces of equipment were out clearing streets on Friday.

"Crews are focusing on Priority 1 routes, so those are routes like Crowchild Trail or Macleod Trail and they're going to keep doing that for as long as it keeps snowing," she said.

"After it stops snowing, usually within 24 hours, they move on to Priority 2 roads, so those are any roads with bus routes on them or connector roads."

Melnick said a snow route parking ban was not anticipated, "but conditions can change really quickly," and motorists are encouraged to check social media for updates.

"We will give Calgarians as much notice as we can," said Melnick."We understand it's a holiday and it's inconvenient and we will only call one if absolutely necessary."

Traffic plods along 16th Avenue N.W. on Friday. The snow and ice were being blamed for several crashes on city streets. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Ron Wilson, the manager of driver education with the Alberta Motor Association, offered some winter driving tips on The Homestretch.

"Drive to conditions, that means give yourself a longer following distance, more space," he said.

"Make sure you ... take the time to clear that snow off the vehicle. You want to see and be seen by other drivers so clear your mirrors, your lights, your windows, all that stuff."

RCMP were also advising against travelling on highways around Calgary. Traffic was backed up on Highway 1 west of the city following crashes involving up to 15 vehicles around Scott Lake Hill.

If you are in a crash, Wilson recommends staying in the vehicle. He also says it's best to keep a winter travel kit in your car.

"Some things you can have is a first aid kit, a shovel, a traction aid, some warm clothing, some non-perishable food, some water ... waterproof matches and a candle."

Anyone who does head out on the highway should also top up the fuel tanks and a make sure a cell phone is charged, said Wilson.


With files from The Homestretch

With files from Andrew Brown

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