Residents of Hague, Sask., take in stranded drivers as blizzard closes highways

While most of the blizzard warnings and blowing snow advisories have been lifted by Environment Canada, the blustery conditions that remain are forcing the closure of most southern Saskatchewan highways and many rural schools.

Highway Hotline shows most roads in southern Sask. are closed Tuesday morning

Snow drifts and stranded vehicles on Highway 11 after blizzard

1 year ago
Duration 0:25
Dashcam footage from David Bueckert on Highway 11 near Hague, Sask. where many vehicles remained in the ditch or just abandoned after blizzard conditions.

Shelby Goertzen says about a hundred vehicles were stranded on Highway 11 near Hague, Sask., about 50 km north of Saskatoon, as a winter blizzard swept through Saskatchewan Monday.

Goertzen, who lives in Hague, said the blizzard swept into town around noon. 

She told CBC News that people were not warned to stay off the highway until it was too late and the storm lasted far longer than they expected, only lifting well after midnight. 

"I guess in previous years when the storm has come through, it's been intense, but it hasn't lasted longer than a couple of hours, so this storm started before noon and didn't [stop] until after midnight," she said. 

Highway 1 in Regina remains littered with abandoned vehicles after a blizzard swept through Saskatchewan on Jan. 31, 2022. (Rob Kruk/CBC News-Radio Canada)

Goertzen decided to go beyond what was necessary.

She operates a youth drop-in centre in Hauge called The Zone. 

"I decided that I'll open up my doors and anyone who needs help can come and get help. And I put out a call for food from the community. And we have a lot of food," she said. 

Between The Zone and a nearby school, around 80 people were able to take shelter overnight. 

Most were able to get back on the highway around 2:30 a.m. CST Tuesday, although some vehicles needed to be towed or boosted. 

Blizzard conditions persist

Stories of people being stuck on the province's highways during Monday's storm are emerging as Saskatchewan continues to dig out on Tuesday. 

While most of the blizzard warnings and blowing snow advisories have been lifted by Environment Canada, the blustery conditions that remain are still affecting highways across Saskatchewan.

As of 11:30 a.m. CST Tuesday, a few highways remain closed — including a section of Highway 1 from Whitewood to just past Grenfell. 

Other routes throughout Saskatchewan are subject to winter conditions, drifting snow and reduced visibility, according to the province's Highway Hotline.

The Highway Hotline camera near Martensville showed blizzard-like conditions at around 3:41 p.m. CST. (Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways)

Around Blaine Lake, roughly 80 kilometres north of Saskatoon, RCMP issued a news release Monday evening urging drivers to avoid travelling in the area. 

"Falling snow and high winds are creating treacherous driving conditions on the roads in and around Blaine Lake," Mounties said.

By Tuesday morning, travel was still not recommended along Highway 12 and Highway 40, due to icy sections, zero visibility and drifting snow.

School bus routes, classes cancelled Tuesday

Due to the treacherous road conditions, many school bus routes across the province, including those in Regina's public and Catholic school divisions and the Prairie Valley School Division, are cancelled Tuesday.

Classes are also cancelled in several rural communities, including most in and around Humboldt, Warman and Martensville.

Students are asked to check in with their schools or watch for announcements from their divisions for an update on the status of their bus routes and classes on Tuesday.

Ambulance hit, drivers get stuck during height of storm

Monday's storm hit just as many people were heading home from work in Swift Current.

Rri Olson was leaving her office as the blizzard conditions hit the city.

She got her car stuck just a few blocks from her house and had to get her neighbour to tow her.

Typically, she said it usually takes her six minutes to get home, but Monday evening it took hours.

"I was hoping when I left Manitoba to be living in southern Saskatchewan that I would escape horrendous winters — and you know what? Three feet of snow when it's quiet does no damage, but three centimetres of snow with these winds is insane," she said.

Environment Canada said Monday that wind gusts were expected to get up to 80 kilometres an hour at times as the storm rolled through.

During the height of Monday's storm, an ambulance with working paramedics inside was also in a crash on the side of the highway near Swift Current.

Cam Hutchinson is the EMS chief for Hutch Ambulance. He told CBC News the emergency vehicle was struck by a semi-trailer when it had to pull over to treat a patient.

Two paramedics were hurt but no one was seriously injured. 

Hutchinson said the conditions have kept his crews busy throughout Monday and Tuesday. 

"There's two spots with at least 50 vehicles parked on the side or in the middle of the road on the westbound lane of the number one highway right now," he said. 

With files from CBC New's Leisha Grebinski and Jessie Anton


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