Blizzard-like conditions have led to a slew of school and event cancellations and changes around Central Alberta.
And the worst may be yet to come.
The best Environment Canada meteorologist John McIntyre can say about this week’s forecast is that things will look “Christmas pretty” for a while.
Monday’s blizzard conditions are expected to ease up overnight, and wind speeds should drop somewhat on Tuesday. “Instead of blowing snow, there will be drifting snow,” predicted McIntyre.
Tuesday’s high of -15C and low of -18C should hold for Wednesday.
But then a low pressure system is expected to descend from the Arctic that will make Central Albertans remember what cold weather really feels like.
McIntyre said Thursday’s low is expected to be -32 and high only -24, while Friday’s low should be -31C and the high -16.
Relief will not come by the weekend, when the highs are only anticipated to be about -15C.
McIntyre doesn’t see any opportunity for mild Pacific air to flow through the province until mid next week. “A big column of high arctic air is descending, and it will stay for days and days.”
Blowing snow and poor visibility led to some flight cancellations and delays at the Red Deer Airport on Monday.
Airport manager R. J. Steenstra said pilots have difficulty landing in snow storm conditions, so flights are having to be rebooked across the province, including Edmonton, Calgary and Grand Prairie. He advises anyone flying tonight or tomorrow to contact their carrier for updated flight information.
The winter storm cancelled school bus routes to a wide swath of Central Alberta on Monday. All buses in Chinook’s Edge and Wild Rose school divisions were cancelled earlier today, but schools remained open.
All rural buses in the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division were cancelled.
Students in the Wolf Creek district (Lacombe and Ponoka counties) will be getting out an hour early Monday to ensure they are dropped off at home during daylight hours. That means if buses usually depart at 3:30 p.m., they will be leaving schools at 2:30 p.m.
School staff in the Wolf Creek district are scrambling to inform parents and emergency contacts of this change and ensure that someone will be able to meet the students. If parents can pick up their children from school, that is fine. But school authorities otherwise need to account for each student to ensure that no one boards the bus unless someone will be at home to meet them.
Lacombe and Ponoka area parents with concerns should call their child’s school or 403-783-3473.
It’s business as usual for Red Deer public schools today, but all school buses on rural routes were cancelled for Red Deer Catholic schools.
School buses running in Settler County for Clearview Public Schools were also cancelled — although buses on two routes in the Town of Stettler proceeded as usual, as did school buses in Paintearth County.
Check the websites of the various school districts for up-to-date busing and school closure information.
Red Deer College cancelled classes at noon on Monday. Evening classes, including those offered through Continuing Education, were also cancelled to help ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff.
Campus security at RDC is available to help those who have issues with getting home.
Decisions about whether RDC classes will go ahead on Tuesday will be made as early as possible, and will depend on whether the snow storm continues. Updates will be posted on RDC’s website: www.rdc.ab.ca, Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Red Deer College and Twitter site: www.twitter.com/Red Deer College.
The Alberta Ombudsman and investigators opted to reschedule meetings that were planned for Red Deer on Tuesday and Lacombe on Wednesday. The ombudsman now plans to travel through this area sometime in the New Year.
The meetings allow Albertans to discuss how they may have been treated unfairly by an Alberta government department, agency, board, commission, designated professional organization, or the patient concerns resolution process of Alberta Health Services.
Anyone with questions or concerns can call the ombudsman’s toll-free number 1-888-455-2756.
The weather has even taken the tea kettle off the Cronquist House stove. Tea will not be served today at the stately Cronquist House due to the sever weather.
The annual International Christmas Tea has been rescheduled for Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. The event will feature diverse finger foods and desserts from an array of countries as well as a large selection of tea, coffee, cappuccinos and hot cocoa. Admission is $10 per customer. To make reservations, call 403-346-0055.