Calgary snow topples tree branches, knocks out power

The heavy, wet snow that brought Calgary’s summer to an abrupt and early end also toppled hundreds of tree branches onto power lines and roadways around the city.

Early snowfall has homeless groups scrambling for clothing

Emergency crews have been kept busy dealing with snow-laden tree branches that have fallen on power lines all around Calgary. (CBC)

The heavy wet snow that brought Calgary’s summer to an abrupt and early end on Monday also toppled hundreds of tree branches onto power lines and roadways around the city.

The power utility Enmax and the fire department have been kept busy on Tuesday clearing branches and restoring power to many neighbourhoods. 

Calgary had its first significant snowfall of the season on Monday, with some parts of the city getting more than 10 centimetres. (CBC)

Outages were reported in Willow Park, Maple Ridge, Lake Bonavista, Acadia and Bonavista Downs, but the power has since been restored.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi asked Calgarians to help save snow-laden trees by knocking the snow off their branches.

"With 10 centimetres of snow falling on trees that have leaves, I'm worried that we're going to lose a lot of branches and a lot of trees, so I am encouraging all Calgarians to do what I did on the way home last night — in my suit and shoes — which is to shake the trees," he said. 

The city is working to clear debris caused by the snow, but it's supposed to start snowing again after 6 p.m. MT and peak at midnight.

Emergency centre opened

Environment Canada has issued snowfall warnings for Calgary and other areas west and north of the city. Another 10 to 15 centimetres of snow is expected as a disturbance moves in from British Columbia through the evening.

The city says it's preparing for the night, and Calgary's emergency operations centre has been opened.

Deputy Chief Tom Sampson says he hasn't seen such heavy snow so early in the season since a snowfall in August roughly 14 years ago.

If a power line is down, or if there is a life-threatening situation, the city advises residents to call 911.

Calgarians should call 311 to reach the city for all other services.​ The city's information hotline has received more than 4,900 calls in the last day with 900 of those calls about fallen trees.

Fallen trees on private property are the homeowner's responsibility, but debris on a city road or sidewalk will be cleared by the city. Residents who have fallen trees or branches can bring them to the landfill free of charge to be recycled.

Homeless groups in need of warm clothes

Calgary’s sudden plunge into early winter weather has left groups that help the homeless scrambling for warm clothing.

The sudden plunge into winter weather has left the Alex Youth Health Centre, and other groups that help Calgarians in need, scrambling to shore up their stores of warm clothing. (CBC)

At the cafeteria of the Calgary Drop-In Centre — usually a quiet place in September — hundreds of people huddled up inside to keep warm and find some winter wear.

"They come in looking for blankets, they come in looking for hoodies, warm jackets, rain jackets, ski pants, boots, winter boots," said volunteer Jennifer McCallum.

Shannon Jones with the Alex Youth Health Centre said the snow is also adding pressure on her organization to round up winter clothing for vulnerable youth.

The centre’s big drive for winter clothes doesn't usually happen for another two months, she said. 

"It's too long to wait until November when we're actually going to have that event. So, we need some stuff to kind of carry us through."

Crops in jeopardy, says farmer

Southern Alberta farmers say the early snow could cost them millions of dollars.

Many say their grain crops are flattened.

Ken Friesz farms about 5,000 acres near Indus, which is located southeast of Calgary.

He says it will likely take about twice as long to harvest crops this year.

"The loss of quality of the wheat can be a huge hit," he said. "The other thing is then by taking longer to harvest, you're paying guys more days, you're going to burn up considerably more fuel." 

Friesz says unless hot weather dries things out quickly, the early snow could cost him somewhere in the neighbourhood of $500,000.


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