Multi-vehicle crashes pile up as spring blizzard hits southern Alberta
Winter storms also expected in parts of the province
Drivers are being cautioned to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary as a spring snowstorm develops over Alberta.
Shortly after 8 p.m. Saturday, an alert was issued warning drivers severe winter weather conditions were impacting both local and provincial roads.
"Heavy snow, icy conditions and strong winds causing blowing snow are creating dangerous driving conditions," the emergency alert read, stating that highways and roads may be closed without notice.
As of 6 p.m. Saturday, a blizzard warning was in effect for Lethbridge, Brooks, Drumheller, Hanna, Medicine Hat and surrounding areas. Blizzard conditions are expected to develop Saturday evening and continue overnight.
Reduced visibility is expected due to snowfall combined with strong wind, with gusts up to 90 kilometres per hour.
Whiteout conditions could occur over sections of Highway 1, the Environment Canada website said.
Redwood Meadows Fire Department cautioned on Twitter that there were multiple responses underway for serious multi-vehicle collisions on Highway 1 between Highway 22 and Range Road 33, and the highway was closed in that area.
Highway 21 was closed between Highway 9 and Highway 525 due to multiple vehicles in the ditch around 7:30 p.m.
And two jacknifed semi-trucks were cleared off Highway 2 mid-afternoon, but Alberta Transportation said there would still be delays in the area due to traffic volume.
RCMP said multiple detachments have reported collisions including in Beiseker, Cochrane and Airdrie.
Other areas in southern Alberta are under snowfall or winter storm warnings.
Some Calgary roads closed, flights cancelled
A storm warning is in effect for Calgary, as multiple types of severe winter weather are expected to occur together.
Between 10 and 20 centimetres of snow are expected to fall over the city, with up to 30 centimetres expected along the foothills and over Cypress Hills. Heavy snowfall will taper off overnight and Sunday morning, Environment Canada said.
Conditions are rapidly deteriorating in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/YYC?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#YYC</a>. Avoid traveling if you can, if you must travel be prepared for severe winter weather. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/YYCTraffic?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#YYCTraffic</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ABStorm?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ABStorm</a> <a href="https://t.co/YWg4os4Zuu">pic.twitter.com/YWg4os4Zuu</a>—@CstCJMartin
City of Calgary Transportation said crews are out clearing snow from major routes but conditions were expected to worsen overnight.
At 5:40 p.m., a large multi-vehicle pileup happened near eastbound Country Hills Boulevard and 14th Street S.E., police said.
A lane was closed on eastbound Stoney Trail near Harvest Hills Boulevard so crews could respond to another multi-vehicle collision.
Dozens of Calgary Transit routes were put on snow detours.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CTRiders?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CTRiders</a> the following bus route are on snow detour: 2,3,4,5,6,7,77,82,89,43,53,76,77,87,88,89,91,97,100,104,105,113,114, 115, 118, 170, 129, 158, 169, 174, 46, 48, 49, 199. <a href="https://t.co/TiRKNBEu05">pic.twitter.com/TiRKNBEu05</a>—@calgarytransit
The storm also caused several small power outages around the city, according to Enmax's website.
Edmonton was covered in a blanket of snow Saturday morning. The city and surrounding area are expected to get about 10 centimetres over the course of the day.
Environment Canada said people should consider postponing non-essential travel until conditions improve.
"Rapidly accumulating snow could make travel difficult over some locations," the website reads. "Visibility will be suddenly reduced to near zero at times in heavy snow and blowing snow."
With files from Sarah Rieger, Jade Markus