Updated: RCMP ask drivers to stay off Highway 2 from Red Deer to Ponoka

Nearly a dozen vehicles, including tractor trailers, off the road

Highway mayhem, slippery sidewalks and tire shops going all out — winter weather has officially arrived.

“November has arrived on schedule. This is the beginning of winter, basically,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Dan Kulak on Tuesday.

“We might get some melting, but we’re going to have more cold in the next seven days than we’re going to get above zero.

“Generally speaking, what we’re getting is the beginning of the buildup of the reservoir of snow for the winter.”

The biggest snowstorms often occur in the shoulder seasons, he said.

“If you’re going to get a big dump of snow, November and early December are the times to be looking for that, statistically, based on past winters. Spring is also a time, often, for big dumps of snow.”

Looking ahead, Red Deer can expect a high of only -9 C on Wednesday, rising to -3 C on Thursday.

At 1 C, Friday is the only day to climb above zero, with highs falling to -11 C on Saturday and Sunday. Snow is also expected Wednesday through Friday.

At Kal Tire’s southern Red Deer location, staff faced a non-stop parade of vehicles getting outfitted with some serious tread.

“Now, it’s really crazy, but it started in September. People were booking back then,” said general manager Clint Pereira.

“Every year, I think more and more people get proactive. It’s almost like Christmas shopping. People are learning to shop earlier.

“I’ve been doing this for 23 years, and we never used to get busy until Halloween time. When we hire a crew now, we hire them in August, because we expect to be busy in September.”

Pereira said staff will roughly double to 20 workers in August to get ready for snow tire season.

Unlike years ago, when customers would turn up as early as 5 a.m. to get in line to have their tires changed, now, it’s all done by appointment, including through online booking. That has also contributed to the earlier start to the busy season.

“We actually had people booking appointments for winter in August this year.”

Tuesday’s snowfall created treacherous driving conditions in central Alberta.

RCMP warned drivers to stay off Highway 2 from Red Deer to Ponoka because of treacherous driving conditions that sent at least 10 vehicles sliding off the road.

Ponoka RCMP issued the warning about 2 p.m. as emergency crews were busy clearing away the mess caused when a tractor trailer jackknifed on Highway 2, just north of Highway 12 outside Lacombe. Northbound traffic was diverted to Highway 2A while the collision scene was cleared.

Another tractor trailer unit was on its side in the median between the northbound and southbound lanes just south of Blackfalds. Not far away, a flatbed truck was lying on its side in the ditch next to the northbound lanes of Highway 2, just north of Red Deer.

In the morning, a school bus rolled just west of Red Deer on Highway 11. The City of Red Deer said the bus was not carrying any students at the time, and the scene was cleared at around 11 a.m.

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