Central Albertans woke to the first icy blast of winter Tuesday.
Slick roads contributed to a truck crashing into the 53rd St. Music store, replacing the sound of crashing cymbals at 11 a.m.
The full-sized pickup burst through the retailer’s east plate glass window and wall, shattering pianos and other instruments. The male driver was uninjured, as were the store’s employees and patrons. The female driver of an SUV hit by the pickup truck just before it entered the store suffered very minor injuries.
Both vehicles were northbound on 49th Avenue when the SUV in the centre lane allegedly tried to turn left onto 53rd Street. They collided, sending the truck between a traffic light and street light to hit the store. RCMP have charged the woman driving the SUV with making an unsafe left turn.
“It was very, very loud and really scary,” said store employee Rebecca Osborne.
“There are times when I’ve seen vehicles hit the curb outside and wondered if they’d come through. To see it happen is crazy.”
Overnight snowfall, a -7C low and a northwest wind left roads polished to an icy glare, sending many drivers into highway ditches.
Secondary Hwy 587 just west of Bowden was closed after a driver slid through a nearby town intersection, taking out a light standard. Although the driver was uninjured, the post snapped, leaving the live line hanging over the highway, said Cpl. Jeff Hildebrandt of Innisfail RCMP. The highway reopened after Fortis Alberta workers cleared the line.
Innisfail, Ponoka and Olds RCMP were kept busy with reports of vehicles sliding off area roads.
“There were multiple, multiple incidents to deal with,” Hildebrandt said.
Ponoka RCMP Integrated Traffic Unit warned drivers of delays as ditched cars were towed out.
RCMP caution drivers to slow down, drive for conditions and budget more time for trips. They should also clear their cars entirely of snow, use headlights for better visibility, ensure all lights are working properly, add weight for better traction if necessary and check tires for wear and if necessary replace them with snow or good all season tires.
“Everybody takes that first moment of snow to drive like an idiot,” said Hildebrandt.
The Alberta Motor Association reported highways in the Innisfail area and south in only fair condition, with worsening conditions in the Calgary area and farther south.
Hwy 11 eastbound was backed up about 1.5 km from the Burnt Lake intersection while city commuters faced longer than usual lines of slow-moving traffic. City crews were out sanding and salting roads to keep ice to a minimum.
The drop to below zero daytime temperatures contrasts with this month’s average high of 10C. Wednesday’s Environment Canada forecast calls for a 40 per cent chance of morning flurries with more wind and a – 5C high.
It will be next week before highs climb above zero again, where they are expected to hold into November.