Southern Alberta digs out from up to metre of snow as warnings end

Environment Canada has lifted its snowfall warnings for Calgary and southern Alberta, after three relentless days that buried some communities with more than a metre of the white stuff.

Storm hit Waterton Lakes hardest with 1.2 metres of snow while Calgary gets 16 cm and counting

Calling in snowplow drivers was a hard sell on Super Bowl Sunday, according to the city's transportation manager. (CBC)

Environment Canada has lifted its snowfall warnings for Calgary and southern Alberta, after three relentless days that buried some communities with more than a metre of the white stuff.

Snow was still falling in Calgary on Monday, after a total of 16 centimetres on the weekend: 9.6 centimetres of snow on Sunday on top of 3.6 centimetres that fell on Saturday and 2.8 centimetres on Friday. 

A 72-hour snow route parking ban has been called for 6 p.m. Monday. (Mario De Ciccio/CBC)

The city announced a snow-route parking ban will start at 6 p.m. on Monday to allow crews to clear those streets, which are typically the main bus routes.

But Calgary's situation paled in comparison to some communities in the southwestern corner of the province.

Southwestern Alberta hit hard

Waterton Lakes got walloped with 120 centimetres of snow, Kirk Tornabey with Environment Canada told Alberta@Noon 

The Crowsnest Pass saw snowfalls of between 40 and 90 centimetres.

Highway 3 in the Crowsnest Pass is closed in both directions from Coleman to the B.C. border because of the weather. Commercial trucks are being parked at a roadside pullout in Frank.

Alberta Roads describes the conditions in the Crowsnest Pass area as hazardous, with blowing snow and poor visibility. Travel is not advised.

Road conditions and visibility are both very poor on Highway 3 in the Crowsnest Pass. (Alberta Transportation)

The municipality of Crowsnest Pass said on Twitter it has opened a warming centre at Elk's Hall in Blairmore for stranded travellers.

Tammy Gurr and her family were on their way to Fernie, B.C., when they were stopped by emergency crews and told they couldn't go on.

They were able to find a bed and breakfast in Coleman, but it's still not clear when they will be able to get through the pass.

"We may just be enjoying a beautiful day inside watching the snow fall," she said. 

No estimate for highway reopening

In B.C., traffic is being stopped at Sparwood until the highway reopens. But Alberta Roads said there is no estimated time for that to happen.

Environment Canada said on its website the Crowsnest area could get another 15 centimetres of snow on Monday with up to 35 centimetres at higher terrain.

"Storm totals in some areas will exceed one metre," the agency said. 

Crowsnest Pass Mayor Blair Painter said he hasn't seen this much snow in more than 20 years. 

"Don't know where we're going to put it all," he said.

There are also icy conditions with reduced visibility on Highway 1 through Banff National Park. 

Cold snap continues

And it hasn't been easy for Albertans to dig out, with frigid temperatures accompanying the snowfall.

Calgary's high temperature is forecast to be just –19 C on Monday, feeling like –30 with the wind chill. Tuesday's forecast has a high of –21 C and a low of –31 C. 

Trucks and graders have been out doing echelon plowing Monday — staggering snowplows across all lanes of a road in one direction — on priority 1 routes such as Crowchild Trail in Calgary, the city's roads department director Troy McLeod told the Calgary Eyeopener Monday.

"Roads are definitely in winter driving condition, so just take it easy out there," he said. "Things will look a lot better this evening."

The winter storm also created icy conditions and reduced visibility on Highway 1 near Banff. (Tiphanie Roquette/Radio Canada)

Parking ban starts at 6 p.m. 

Calgary's snow-route parking ban, which kicks in at 6 p.m. on Monday, means vehicles cannot be parked on streets marked with a snow route sign for 72 hours. 

"We will ticket and tow vehicles that are parked in violation of the ban. It's not because we're being mean, but it's because we have to actually clear those streets," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.  

The snow-clogged roads have led to a spike in accidents.

Calgary police said there were 195 collisions in the city between midnight and 4 p.m., 12 of which involved injuries. 

Around 5 p.m., the police shut down Glenmore Trail at northbound 52 Street S.E. because of icy conditions. 

Traffic was crawling on Monday morning in Calgary as snow continued to fall for the fourth day in a row. (CBC)

Drop-In Centre needs supplies 

With Calgary in the grip of a cold snap, the Professional Association of Resident Physicians of Alberta made a timely donation of warm winter gear to the Drop-In and Rehab Centre.

Kwandwo Mponponsuo, who helped organize the donation drive, said as a doctor, it's important for him to recognize the role poverty plays in health. 

"The medicine part, a lot of the time, is quite easy. But it's really addressing those underlying causes [of] ill health," he said. 

Drop-In Centre executive director Debbie Newman said the gift is highly appreciated. 

"To have medical students that are coming in and dropping off clothes for those in need means so much to us. You can imagine what it's like for medical students, and how busy they are," she said.

"Right now the need is great, with the weather being so cold, there's always a need to have a supply of tuques and mittens, scarves, warm jackets."

Commuters in Calgary faced a slow, slippery morning drive after the city got 16 centimetres of snow over the weekend. (Monty Kruger/CBC)