CALGARY – A greening southern Alberta turned white again Thursday with a wet and windy snowstorm that closed schools, shut down major highways and mottled the flight board at the Calgary airport with red.
The dump of slushy, heavy snow began Wednesday and crippled travel as temperatures hovered around the freezing mark and winds gusted to 90 kilometres an hour.
Hills and highway ramps were particularly dicey. A highway into the Cypress Hills in the southeast corner of the province was reduced to one lane because of a snowslide.
At one point, there were so many crashes on the main route between Calgary and Edmonton that it was closed so that emergency crews could do their work.
The RCMP recommended drivers stay off the roads if they could.
Power was out in many communities south of Red Deer because of high winds. As soon as crews managed to solve one problem, another would appear. In Calgary, utility provider Enmax said as many as 47,000 customers were without electricity at some point during the day.
At the Calgary airport, many flights were cancelled and many more weren’t running on time.
Airport spokeswoman Jody Moseley said flights were getting in and out throughout the day and most of the cancellations were due to scheduling decisions being made pre-emptively by the airlines.
“You know Calgary gets snow 12 months out of the year and (the airport) has the best equipment and some of the best staff to keep the runways clear,” she said.
“Calgarians are very aware of the weather situation and are prepared when they come.”
Many schools were reporting bus delays. Several schools in outlying communities around Calgary didn’t even bother to open for the day.
Environment Canada called for skies to clear overnight.
The forecast was for sun and 7 C on Friday, but there is the possibility of more snow for the area early next week.