Road conditions turn ugly again, more snow on the way

Just as the City of Red Deer is getting a handle on road clearing from last week’s storm, there’s more snow to deal with.

Two passersby take the driver of a car to their waiting truck after his car lost control and spun into the Hwy 2 median just north of the 32nd Street overpass Thursday. RCMP instituted a tow truck ban that was later lifted after a spate of vehicles ended up in ditches between the Red Deer River all the way to Innisfail during the day’s snowfall. More snow is forecast to fall right through the weekend.

Just as the City of Red Deer is getting a handle on road clearing from last week’s storm, there’s more snow to deal with.

A total of 10 cm is expected to accumulate in the city over today and Friday, before an Arctic surge plunges temperatures to -32 on the weekend.

“We’re not expecting a big dump of snow in one day this time — so we’re hoping it won’t be that bad,” said city roads superintendent Jim Chase on Thursday.

This week’s snowfall in the Red Deer area is expected to be lighter and more gradual, so less likely to cause the traffic problems of the last storm that left motorists stuck in 20 cm of snow on residential streets and in parking lots.

But a much greater amount is falling on communities south and west of Rocky Mountain House, with some reporting 30 cm of snow by noon on Thursday.

Meanwhile, highway conditions continue to be dicey across Central Alberta.

RCMP are warning motorists about poor road conditions on Hwy 2 between Red Deer and Carstairs, due to patches of black ice.

On Thursday morning, at least three vehicles had gone into the ditch on Antler Hill, near Innisfail, and others were reported to have swerved into the median south of Red Deer.

Highway visibility was also reduced because of ice fog, and motorists were urged to be cautious and only travel if necessary.

Const. Norm Therrien of Innisfail RCMP Traffic Services, said drivers should slow down and avoid hitting their brakes or relying too much on cruise control. “If people drove according to the conditions, there would be zero problems.”

Icy road conditions could worsen with the Arctic front that is expected to descend on the area starting Saturday, when the mercury drops to -23.

Sunday and Monday’s lows are expected to be a bone-chilling -32, and the highs only -28 (on Sunday) and -23 Monday.

Environment Canada is predicting more of a Pacific flow later next week, with temperatures returning to normal or even above normal.

In the meantime, a few Red Deer residents were still phoning to complain about the lack of snow removal on their street on Thursday, but Chase said the complaints have tapered off as most people realize the focus has to be on clearing larger roadways.

“We’re already done the main drags, or what we call the arterials. As well, we’ve cleared the downtown area and done snow removal.”

He added some additional graders were hired help remove snow on Thursday, as city roads crews cleared bus routes, as well as collector roads in residential areas, and back alleys for garbage trucks.

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