Major storm creates power outages, unsafe roads

Officials are warning drivers to be careful on the road Monday as a major storm blows across Saskatchewan.

Heavy snow, gusty winds expected for much of province

The storm twisted a highway sign near Pilot Butte, Sask. (Glenn Reid/CBC)

Officials are warning drivers to be careful on the road Monday as a major storm blows across Saskatchewan.

As of noon CST, almost the entire province was either under a winter storm or blowing snow advisory.

The storm is expected to carry wind gusts of 100 km/h and about 10 centimetres of snow in the Saskatoon region, with five to 10 millimetres of rain.

By mid-day, the Saskatoon Police Service had reported several accidents in the storm.

A semi jackknifed on Highway 11 just north of Hague, a small town located 47 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, closing both southbound lanes, according to the Saskatchewan RCMP.

"There is very low visibility and all motorists should avoid traveling in/toward this area," the RCMP said in a release. 

Only a few hardy souls were out on some of the streets of Saskatoon Monday afternoon. (Matt Garand/CBC)

Farther south, Regina was expected to see 2 to 4 centimetres of snow, along with wind gusts of 100 km/h by noon.

At noon CST, Highway 1 from the Alberta border to Chaplin was closed, as was Highway 32 from the Highway 1 Junction to Leader. Shortly after, all highways around Swift Current, Kindersley, Rosetown and Biggar were closed.

The winter storm comes after a mild weekend with daytime highs in the mid to high teens across the province.

WATCH | Storm chaser Jenny Hagan shows the winter storm battering Saskatchewan

Storm chaser Jenny Hagan shows the winter storm that continues to batter western Saskatchewan

1 year ago
Duration 0:59
Storm chaser Jenny Hagan says visibility is still practically zero near Kindersley, Sask. She echoes the Highway Hotline's warnings and says people should stay off the road right now.

Storm chaser Jenny Hagan, who watched the incoming storm at a gas station near her home in Eatonia, south of Kindersley, says the storm is creating very treacherous conditions.

"It is too dangerous to travel out anywhere," she said. 

"You probably can't see more than your arm-length in front of you right now, so you don't want to be pulling out onto the road."

Due to the high winds, visibility will be reduced and whiteout conditions are possible. As of 6 a.m. the Ministry of Highways had put out a Travel Not Recommended advisory for the Kindersley area due to zero visibility and icy road sections.

Storm chaser Jenny Hagan photographed Monday's storm at a gas station near Eatonia, Sask. (Jenny Hagan/Twitter)

By 6:30 a.m. CST, a travel advisory had also been issued for Highway 16 from Lloydminster to Maidstone. By 7:15 a.m. CST, Highway 3 from the Alberta border to Shell Lake was also under a travel advisory.

As well, Environment and Climate Change Canada warned that temperatures will quickly fall below 0 C today, potentially leading to a rapid freeze of roads and sidewalks.

The City of Saskatoon said it would be sending out graders and sanding crews once the storm hit. The crews will be focusing on keeping priority roads open.

The city asked drivers to be careful on the road and to stay off the road when road conditions become treacherous.

Power outages

As of noon CST, SaskPower reported 78 power outages across the province, affecting about 10,000 customers.

The Crown corporation says high winds are creating "line gallop," a condition where moving power lines can come into contact with each other or become disconnected.

A spokesperson says it could take a while before it's safe for crews to make repairs.

"The wind prevents us from doing certain types of repair," said Scott McGregor. "While the winds are blowing really strongly, it's just not safe for us to send crews up in buckets or to climb poles."

McGregor warned people to stay far away from any lines lying on the ground, and to immediately call SaskPower if seen.

"It's really a big threat to safety," he said. "People need to stay back at least 10 metres and give us a call."

The power outages cover a wide area, including Kerrobert, Big River, Eatonia, Delisle and Beauval.

As blizzard-like conditions got underway in Saskatoon, one resident took his dog for a walk. (Matt Garand/CBC)