Travellers stranded as southwestern Alberta buried under serious snowstorm

By on February 6, 2017


Snowfall warnings for southwestern Alberta were lifted Monday, but a major highway into British Columbia remained closed. (Photo: daveynin/ Flickr
Snowfall warnings for southwestern Alberta were lifted Monday, but a major highway into British Columbia remained closed. (Photo: daveynin/ Flickr)

Snowfall warnings for southwestern Alberta were lifted Monday, but a major highway into British Columbia remained closed.

Heavy snowfall closed schools and travel was treacherous in Calgary and the Crowsnest Pass, where officials closed Highway 3 from Coleman into B.C.

Both the north and southbound lanes were closed to traffic and travellers were being held back at both ends until the highway reopens.

Blair Painter, mayor of Crowsnest Pass, said more than 90 centimetres of snow fell in the area.

“So this is back to an old-fashioned snowstorm,” he said. “The wind has not come up. That’s a real blessing.”

All hotels in the Crowsnest Pass were full, Painter said, but a shelter set up at the Elks hall in Blairmore was visited by only about six people, he added. Some truck drivers had to stop in the community as well.

“The trucking community, they keep an eye out on the condition of the highways ahead of them, and those that were able to stay at home or postpone their trip, or pull over someplace else, have done so.”

Among the travellers stranded were players from the Western Hockey League Medicine Hat Tigers. The team spent Sunday night in Cranbrook, B.C., according to a tweet by play-by-play announcer Bob Ridley.

Environment Canada meteorologist Kirk Torneby said 40 centimetres of snow fell in Pincher Creek, 45 centimetres in Lethbridge, 90 in Coleman and a whopping 120 at the Waterton National Park gate.

Some parts of Castle Mountain Resort were closed due to an extreme avalanche hazard and control crews were using explosives to try to reduce the risk. Officials said the road and parking lot were full and people were being asked to delay their trips.

In snow-choked Calgary, police had to deal with well over 200 crashes since Sunday afternoon, including eight involving injuries.

Skiers and boarders flocked to Fernie, B.C., on the weekend to take advantage of the fresh snow and many were stuck there due to the road closure.

“Had a wonderful day of skiing,” said Lowell Taylor from Fernie.

“They’ve had epic amounts of snow, and we found out when we were about to leave home for Lethbridge last night that the road was closed, so wonderful friends let us stay overnight. The locals here say they haven’t seen snow like this in 20 years. They’ve had just an amazing amount of snow fall in the last 48 hours.”

Carol Lacy, manager of Pure Country Pub and Grill, said snow was up to her thighs outside her home – “and I’m 5 feet, 10 inches.”

“You can barely distinguish the road from the ditch,” she said. “If I didn’t have to come to work, and I didn’t live in town, I wouldn’t be here.”