Spring street sweeping? We’re not done plowing yet

Nearly five months of snow — gulp.

Steve Day makes his way through downtown Red Deer pushing his bike through the accumulating snowy slush on Thursday.

Steve Day makes his way through downtown Red Deer pushing his bike through the accumulating snowy slush on Thursday.

Nearly five months of snow — gulp.

Yes, our first snowfall of winter was on Nov. 16, 2010, and with less than two days to April 16, we’re coming up to that special anniversary.

Drivers encountered slick conditions on Central Alberta highways on Thursday after snow began falling overnight. Some had a particularly tough time on Hwy 2 that became snow-covered Thursday morning, said Alberta highway patrol Sheriff Lance Chalmers.

“We responded to several calls of vehicles going off the road and into the ditch,” said Chalmers.

No one was hurt. Chalmers and other responders helped arrange for tow trucks. The worst stretch of road appeared to be between Lacombe and Ponoka, he added.

By afternoon, road conditions had improved dramatically, Chalmers said.

Poor driving conditions resulted in a number of cancellations, including Thursday’s regular court day in Stettler. Wild Rose Public Schools saw five out of 26 bus routes in the Rocky Mountain House area closed.

Bruce Wagner, transportation director for Chinook’s Edge School Division, said buses were cancelled in the Carstairs and Elnora areas, plus a few individual routes through the division.

The City of Red Deer planned to start street sweeping this weekend, but that will likely be pushed back, said Public Works manager Greg Sikora.

“Typically, we would have already started,” he said.

And if you think it’s cold for April, it is.

Environment Canada meteorologist Lisa Coldwells said the normal high for Red Deer this time of year is 12C. Over the next few days, Red Deer will see highs around 3C.

Red Deerians woke up to 11 cm of snow on Thursday, while Rocky Mountain House had eight.

It could be worse though. Champion, located 75 km north of Lethbridge, had the most in Alberta, with 28 cm.

“The weather pattern is very cold and volatile, meaning there are lots of systems coming along,” said Coldwells. “We’re having rapidly changing weather. There’s no real spring in the near future.”

More snow is expected to fall on Sunday from Rocky Mountain House through to Coronation. And the weather next week remains unsettled, Coldwells added.

With no green fairways to be seen for miles around, golfers can’t be too happy, either.

Wayne Ganshirt, director of golf for Gleniffer Lake Resort and Country Club, said he circled May 1 as the golf course opening and he’s sticking with it. Last year, the course opened on April 16.

“I’ve been doing it 23 years and I would say 70 per cent of the time, May 1 has been the date around this area,” Ganshirt said.

The resort has also been busy the last couple of weeks with people itching to get back into their RVs parked on lots.

This extra moisture does have mixed blessings for the agriculture industry.

Grant Lastiwka, forage and beef specialist with the Alberta Ag Info Centre, said the later spring makes it tough for producers to find dry ground for animals. “And when you’ve got little calves, you’d like to have places for them to go so they can be calves and run back and forth,” Lastiwka said.

Producers will have to contend with muck as a result of these conditions, he added.

Calving season typically runs from January to July.

The one good thing, he added, is that moisture will foster pasture growth, Lastiwka said.

Alberta Ag Info Centre crop specialist Neil Whatley said farmers will be heading into a season with a lot of moisture, including last summer’s rainfall. He anticipates more sloughs.

Generally, seeding takes place in Central Alberta between May 7 and 15.

“Once we get heat in this country, which happens around the end of April or beginning of May . . .then things could turn out really warm,” Whatley said. “Then people could start seeding.”

The Alberta Motor Association encourages homeowners to prepare for spring thaw.

“With the significant snowfall we received across Alberta over the winter, there is the potential for water damage when temperatures rise and snow starts to melt rapidly,” said Troy Bourassa, director of claims for AMA Insurance, in a news release.

Some tips to prevent water damage include installing a sump pump in the basement and backflow valves for drains, toilets and other sewer connections, as well as keeping basement floor drains clear of any obstructions. For more information, go online at AMAInsurance.ca/Home