Massive winter storm dumps 70 cm of snow on some parts of southern Alberta

A massive winter storm dumped up to 40 centimetres of snow on Calgary and at least 70 centimetres in other parts of southern Alberta, causing cancelled flights and chaos on the roads with dozens of collisions and stuck cars and buses.

Region no longer under weather alert, says Environment Canada

Neetu Verma shared this photo of a massive drift of snow outside the door of a home in northeast Calgary on Tuesday, while Meribeth Knill sent a photo of knee-deep snow in Bragg Creek, Alta. (Neetu Verma, Meribeth Knill)

A massive winter storm dumped up to 40 centimetres of snow on Calgary and at least 70 centimetres in other parts of southern Alberta, causing cancelled flights and chaos on the roads with dozens of collisions and stuck cars and buses.

There are no longer any weather warnings for southern Alberta, according to Environment Canada. But a swath of the province's north is under an extreme cold warning.

The agency said the snowfall and winter storm warnings that were issued on Monday remained in effect Tuesday morning all through southern Alberta and well into the central region of the province.

Total accumulations in Calgary ranged from 20 to 40 centimetres, according to Environment Canada. To the west, in Kananaskis Country, accumulations of as much as 70 centimetres were reported in some places.

Roads in Calgary were a slippery mess Tuesday morning and sidewalks were blanketed in shin-deep snow.

The snowfall tapered off throughout the day, but earlier Tuesday there were gusting northerly winds of 30 km/h with gusts up to 50 out of the north. This caused "reduced visibility in the area of the Calgary airport with visibility at three quarters of a mile," said Environment Canada meteorologist Blaine Lowry.

WATCH: Calgary man snowmobiles for coffee:

Snowmobile coffee run in Calgary

CBC News Calgary

2 months ago
Plenty of cars got stuck in the heavy snow that hit Calgary on Dec. 22, 2020, but this guy wasn't going to let the weather interfere with his morning coffee run. (Video: Travis Norwegian) 0:10

Earlier in the day, blowing snow reduced the Trans-Canada Highway to single lane traffic in spots near Canmore as the snowfall and winter storm warnings persisted all through southern Alberta and well into the central region of the province.

From 5 p.m. Monday to 10 a.m. Tuesday, Calgary police said there were 54 non-injury collisions, 12 that resulted in injuries and nine hit and runs.

The City of Calgary tweeted that because the snow stopped falling around 3 p.m., it was "activating the city's 7 day snow plan."

This means snow clearing crews will focus on more "high-volume" routes such as Crowchild Trail and Glenmore Trail. After that, they will move on to Priority 2 routes, such as Kensington Road and Acadia Drive.

The city tweeted asking that people clear their sidewalks of snow and ice, and reminded Calgarians that "snow must be removed with 24 hours of snowfall ending."

This was the scene in Oakridge in southwest Calgary early Tuesday morning. Some parts of the city got as much as 40 centimetres of snow overnight. (Bruce Bynoe)
A Calgary Transit Access vehicle had to be towed after getting stuck in the snow on Tuesday morning. (Sunil Verma)

Earlier in the day, city roads spokesperson Chris McGeachy said there were 59 sanders and 12 graders out clearing the snow, plus four additional contracted graders that were called in to assist. 

Calgary Transit warned that many bus routes were running detours or were behind schedule and that the On Demand route between Carrington and Linvgstone was suspended.

"Due to current weather conditions expect delays and detours. We are unable to provide you with an ETA." Calgary Transit tweeted in the afternoon.

They request checking the Calgary Transit website for updates.

The storm started off the coast of British Columbia, walloped the B.C. Interior and then moved through the southern part of Alberta starting Monday.

WATCH: Calgarian's cars vs. today's snowy streets: 

You know it's winter when...

CBC News Calgary

2 months ago
These very Canadian snow vs. car scenes are brought to you today from Calgary after the city was hit with a massive dump of snow. 0:21

Calgary Fire urges awareness

Calgary Fire Department spokesperson Carol Henke says when shovelling snow around a home, it's important to remember to move it away from the fresh air intake so that carbon monoxide doesn't build up inside. It's also vital to have working carbon monoxide alarms, she said. 

Firefighters responded to multiple "monoxide-related incidents" the fire department said in a later statement Tuesday.

"If you are exposed to CO gas, you may get flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea and dizziness, as well as become confused, tired and lose consciousness," the statement read.

"If you or anyone in your house experiences the symptoms of CO poisoning or your CO alarm goes off, you should leave your residence and call 9-1-1. Do not go back into the house until the Fire Department tells you it is safe to do so."

Some people embraced the snow. Cailey Meuse said she and her partner had a fun ski right through the downtown core to the CBC building in northwest Calgary, and saw at least a dozen other skiers out along the Bow River. (Submitted by Cailey Meuse)
Vehicles went off the road at Barlow Trail and Airport Trail because of the slick conditions. (City of Calgary)

Travel delayed

In the morning while the snow was still falling, Environment Canada said motorists should consider postponing non-essential travel.

At around 8 a.m., RCMP warned motorists to avoid travel on Highway 40 in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary. 

"Road conditions are extremely poor due to accumulating snow and poor visibility," a release said. 

Shortly after that, Canmore RCMP also advised against non-essential travel on Highway 1 west from Exit 114 to the Banff Park gates, saying road conditions are poor with single-lane traffic in both directions as road crews work on clearing drifting and blowing snow.

This bus was among those that got stuck. Calgary Transit said all of its bus routes have been affected by the snowstorm and all routes were behind schedule. (Laurent T.-B)

The Calgary International Airport warned travellers that the storm could affect flights and that they should check with airlines on departure and arrivals times and leave extra time to get to the airport. A couple of arriving flights had to be diverted to Edmonton on Monday night because of the snow, the airport said.

WestJet said it had cancelled 35 flights as of about 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

WATCH: Calgary bus drivers forced to abandon stuck vehicles:

Calgary Transit had a rough time navigating the city's recent snowstorm

CBC News Calgary

2 months ago
This Calgarian saw at least seven buses still stranded 24 hours after Calgary's big snowfall. (Mike MacLean) 0:41

Storm moving east

Kyle Brittain, The Weather Network's Calgary bureau chief, said the storm system is expected to move through Saskatchewan and Manitoba later on Tuesday and reach Ontario by Wednesday.

"It's kind of like this gift from Mother Nature, if you will, for folks hoping for a white Christmas," he said.

Calgarian Williams Chirinos, who was out shovelling to make room on the street to park his vehicle, said he really didn't mind the snow.

"Actually I feel quite well, because I think we need to have a white Christmas," he said. "It's OK, no big deal."

WATCH | Dogs play in Alberta snow dump:

Dog days of winter

CBC News Calgary

2 months ago
Who's excited about all the snow in Calgary? These good dogs are. 0:11

Check out more of the great pictures people have shared:

This little tree shone bright thanks to a fresh dusting of snow in Bragg Creek, Alta. (Caroline Fisher)
The snow was so bad Calgarian Rebecca Anderson, left, donned snowshoes to take out the trash in the SE neighbourhood of Cranston. Some Calgarians made the most of it and cracked a few cold ones. (Rebecca Anderson/Christina Pop)
These kids knew what to do with a giant pile of fluffy snow. (Lesley Sinclair)
A vehicle is buried in snow on a residential street in Auburn Bay. (Inam Jamil)
Environment Canada says Calgary got from 20 to 40 centimetres of snow from Monday night to Tuesday morning. (CBC)
The big snow dump wasn't enough to deter Chris Bolin's cat from going outside to explore. (Chris Bolin)
The snow seemed to put a frowny face on this Jeep. (Steve A. Armstrong)


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