Blizzard closed Trans-Canada Highway in Sask. for most of Wednesday
No watches or warnings left from Environment and Climate Change Canada by Wednesday night
Some customers in Saskatchewan were still without electricity late Wednesday amid a storm that closed highways around Regina earlier in the day.
While the storm calmed earlier in the northern half of the province, a large swath of the eastern and southeastern regions, including Regina, Moose Jaw and Indian Head, were still under a blizzard warning early Wednesday morning.
There are no watches or warnings left from Environment and Climate Change Canada in the province by Wednesday night.
"While the worst of this storm system has exited the region, strong northwest winds will continue to produce areas of poor visibility in blowing snow through the rest of the day," the agency said on its website.
"The blowing snow will come to an end this evening as the winds ease and light snow tapers off."
Highways were closed in all directions out of Regina earlier Wednesday morning, but they have since reopened.
RCMP said in a statement that no one "reported any injuries" to officers after the traffic backup and earlier closure of Highway 1 between Regina and Moose Jaw.
"We do not have specific details available about the initial collision that occurred; however, it was the aftermath of four vehicles being stuck and snow piling up around them which resulted in the backup," RCMP said.
Driving conditions remain difficult in and around the city and travel is still not recommended on several roads around the city.
Officers also responded to a collision in the eastbound lanes of Highway 1, about 10 kilometres east of Pense.
Vehicles were backed up and emergency responders were turning drivers away from the eastbound lanes at Moose Jaw/Highway 39, as tow trucks tried to clear the vehicles and reopen the roadway, according to the RCMP.
(10:30a.m.) HWY #1 from <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Regina?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Regina</a> to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MooseJaw?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MooseJaw</a> is CLOSED due to road + weather conditions.<br>Approx. 10 km E of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Pense?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Pense</a> is BLOCKED in both lanes due to a collision. Vehicles are at a stand still. Be mindful of first responders on scene working to clear the roadway. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SKStorm?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SKStorm</a>—@RCMPSK
Saskatchewan's Highway Hotline reported four accidents on Highway 1 late Wednesday morning between Moose Jaw and Regina, as well as one on the Regina Bypass southeast of the city.
Power outages had been affecting some parts of rural Saskatchewan in the wake of the storm up until Wednesday night around 8 p.m.
Repair crews had not been able to restore power in some areas affected by the blizzard because of impassable roads and high winds. In an email, the Crown corporation thanked customers for their patience.
Due to the power outages, SaskTel had also been experiencing service outages in several communities.
Regina school buses cancelled
In Regina, residents were warned of poor visibility and wind gusting to 90 km/h.
Because of the weather, all Regina Public Schools (RPS) buses, as well as light transportation, were cancelled Wednesday, though schools remained open.
Transportation is expected to resume normally on Thursday, the school division said.
Many vehicles stuck, Saskatoon taxi driver says
Not everybody had the choice to avoid driving Wednesday morning.
Aboye Mengesha, a taxi driver with RIIDE in Saskatoon, spent over an hour shovelling his car free after getting stuck in the snow.
"Some Good Samaritans came and helped me out," he said. "We have to dig all around it."
People should drive slowly and avoid snow drifts, said the taxi driver, who also recommended that drivers keep a shovel in their vehicle and wear warm clothes and boots. "And then get ready to dig."
Mengesha said he saw many people whose vehicles became stuck Wednesday morning.
"When you see the snow, you can't tell how deep it is," he warned. "Don't try to go over it because you may not."
In Regina, people were also busy shovelling snow and pushing vehicles. One Regina woman was struggling just to get out of a parking lot as she tried to get to work.
"I am going to have to call my boss," she said, after only moving a short distance in her car. "I don't think we can get out there at all."
People helping each other
In Saskatoon, people and communities worked together on Tuesday, trying to help the most vulnerable during the snowstorm.
The White Buffalo Youth Lodge was handing out warm clothes and the city's cold weather strategy kicked in to make sure people had access to warming places.
Emergency Management Organization director Pamela Goulden-McLeod said the cold weather strategy for Saskatoon's vulnerable is activated with warming shelters open for those who need them.
"There are over 20 organizations involved with the cold weather strategy," she said in a statement on Monday.
"These organizations, under the leadership of the Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership, work to make sure that individuals and families experiencing or at risk-of homelessness are aware of safe available sleeping options and warming locations."
Besides bigger organizations coming together to help, individuals are also trying to make a change.
Tuk Gordon runs a volunteer harm reduction Instagram account, collecting donations to buy goods for people in need.
"I just spent the better part of the afternoon shopping for some supplies for the blizzard that is currently hitting Saskatoon," he said Tuesday.
"We got some classic hand and foot warmers, about 100 pairs of socks, some good deals on ski pants, some long underwear, snacks that a follower put together."
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With files from Saskatoon Morning