City of Red Deer snow-clearing crews were out in force Friday trying to keep the highest priority routes clear despite the constant snowfall.
“Right now, we have 16 units out there working, including plows, sanders, graders, loader plows and a salt brine unit,” said city roads superintendent Jim Chase about 3 p.m.
Plowing crews have been focusing on priority one targets, which include high-collision areas like the intersections at Gaetz Avenue and 67th and 32nd Streets, as well as the intersection of 67th Street and Taylor Drive. The city’s hills on Gaetz Avenue, Ross and 67th Streets and the slope near the hospital are also top priorities, along with bridges.
The salt brine unit puts down a liquid salt mixture down on roads, works on bridges and hills and prevents snow from freezing to road surfaces.
The snow has been coming down so hard crews have had to keep returning to high-priority spots and have not been able to shift their focus to priority two roads, such as the downtown and other main routes.
“Obviously the hills, the bridges and the high-collision intersections are what you have to concentrate on and you quite often have to keep going back to them before you can get to the downtown areas.”
Chase said depending on how long the snowfall lasts, plowing crews may not be able to shift to lower priority routes until Saturday.
“The guys will be battling the priority ones all night. They make judgment calls. If they think they’ve got them under control they’ll start plowing the downtown areas.”
Below is a chronological list of weather-related updates from the Advocate newsroom:
3:30 p.m. Friday
• Northbound and Southbound lanes have been reopened on Hwy 2 from Balzac to Calgary.
• Travel is still not recommended due to poor winter driving conditions and poor visibility.
2:05 p.m. Friday
The Alberta Motor Association is warning drivers to keep off the roads if they don’t need to travel.
Conditions remain poor through most of Central Alberta.
Despite the poor weather, wait times for tow trucks is only about one hour in Central Alberta, AMA spokesman Kent Dixon said at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
“That’s pretty much average, even with the conditions the way they are and the snowfall the way it is.”
1:35 p.m. Friday
• Hwy 590 has been re-opened to traffic after being blocked for about two hours. Police say the road surface remains slippery but has been plowed and sanded by road crews.
12:25 p.m. Friday
• Due to multiple vehicle collisions in the Airdire area, RCMP have shut down Hwy 2 from Calgary to Balzac in both the northbound and southbound lanes.
11:49 a.m. Friday
From Stettler RCMP:
• Highway 590 is blocked at the Red Deer River about 10 km west of Big Valley. This is the connecting route between Big Valley, Innisfail and Three Hills.
• In the valley at the McKenzie Crossing bridge, multiple semi trailer units have jacknifed. RCMP are working with towing companies to to open the highway as soon as possible.
11:37 a.m. Friday
• Tow ban in effect on Hwy 2 from Lacombe south to Gasoline Alley.
• Travel is not recommended in the Red Deer area
• Police working to assist multiple stranded drivers
• About 12 cars incapacitated on Hwy 2 between Hwy 11 and Hwy 11A. Police are arranging transportation for stranded drivers.
11:10 a.m. Friday
• Eight-vehicle pileup reported in the southbound lane on Hwy 2 a half kilometre north of Hwy 11
• Multiple accident reports coming in from Hwy 2. No serious injuries reported.
• A tow ban has been imposed for Hwy 2 north and south of Red Deer. Stuck or stalled cars will not be assisted by tow trucks.
9:30 a.m. Friday
• Heavy snow fall. Poor visibility. Rapidly worsening driving conditions.
• City of Red Deer snow removal crews working to clear primary routes.
• CENTRAL ALBERTA ALERT FROM AMA: Highway alert: As of Friday morning Environment Canada’s severe weather warning for Alberta remains in effect. Areas affected will be from Alberta’s north, south to southern Alberta. 10 to 20 centimetres of snow fall can be expected through Friday followed by extreme cold on Saturday. Visibility will be poor in some areas because of high winds. If you have to travel over the next couple of days please be prepared for severe weather.
Environment Canada forecast
Environment Canada says an Arctic cold front is expected to sweep rapidly southeastward across southern Alberta through the day Friday.
This front will be accompanied by snow, strong winds and blowing snow. Snowfall accumulations of 10 to 20 centimetres can be expected in many regions by midnight Friday.
The front will also be accompanied by strong north to northwest winds resulting in widespread blowing snow and near zero visibilities.
These reduced visibilities will be most pronounced in exposed and rural areas. The winds should slowly begin to ease overnight Friday.
In the wake of this cold front much cooler air will settle over the province on Saturday.
Persons in or near these areas should be on the lookout for adverse weather conditions and listen for updated warnings.
Over the southwest strong west winds will develop through some mountain passes and adjacent valleys this evening.