Worst blizzard in years blasts Saskatchewan

Blizzard conditions paralyzed Saskatoon and many other communities Wednesday as a fierce storm scoured the central part of the province, closing roads, airports and schools.

'I've never seen a storm like this,' woman near North Battleford says as high winds and heavy snow wreak havoc

Blizzard conditions paralyzed Saskatoon and numerous other communities Wednesday as Saskatchewan's worst storm in years blasted its away eastward.

A pedestrian crosses College Drive during the blizzard Wednesday in Saskatoon. (Geoff Howe/Canadian Press)
Highways around Saskatoon, North Battleford, Melfort and Wynyard were closed as high winds and snow hit hard throughout much of the central part of the province.

Two people died after their car got stuck in the storm near Onion Lake First Nation. The 17-year-old boy and 38-year-old woman tried to walk to safety and died overnight Tuesday.

Environment Canada meteorologist Bob Cormier said the province was being split in half by the weather system.

Areas above a line running from Lloydminster to Saskatoon to south of Hudson Bay were being slammed by as much as 20 centimetres of snow and blizzard conditions. Saskatoon was one of the worst affected areas.

Driving 'could be suicide,' says trucker

Truck driver Peter Spock was among those who had to put their plans on hold. Spock was planning to haul a load to Burnaby, B.C., on Wednesday but decided to wait out the storm at a Husky gas station in Saskatoon.

Driving through the storm wasn't worth the risk, Spock said.

"It could be suicide. Me and the truck could be in the ditch and the load and everything," he said.

Brenda Hrabia, who works at a Super Stop near North Battleford, said even the truckers had pulled off the icy roads.

"The back is full of truckers. It is a total whiteout. The winds are really bad here," she said early in the day.

"I've never seen a storm like this in years. It's terrible."

Police respond only to emergencies

Saskatoon police were advising motorists to travel as little as possible. Police said that while the blizzard continued, they would be responding to emergency calls only.

A group of Good Samaritans help push at an intersection where many vehicles got stuck in Saskatoon. (Geoff Howe/Canadian Press)
They reported they were extremely busy. Car were abandoned in snowdrifts and ditches around the city.

The fire department asked people in the city not to use cellphones unless necessary to allow emergency services to get their messages through.

Public schools cancelled classes and asked parents to pick up their children. Some post-secondary institutions were closed.

The Saskatoon airport closed and the city's bus department said it would shut down at 6 p.m. The Saskatchewan Transportation Co. said no buses were running out of either Saskatoon or Prince Albert.

Taxis were running and city tow trucks said they were operating, although not on highways.

Prince Albert also hit hard

The wicked weather also hit Prince Albert in full force.

Blizzard conditions forced at least one local airline to cancel all flights in and out of the city and Prince Albert's First Nations University campus shut down for the day.

People in the southern portion of the province weren't seeing as much snow, but were also experiencing strong winds, blowing snow and low visibility.

There was some good news for Saskatchewan residents, however.

About 360 striking snowplow operators agreed to return to work Tuesday as the blizzard headed east. The union said it was concerned about the ability of managers to keep up with the road clearing that would be necessary.