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Cold clamps down on Prairies

Blowing snow in Oyen, Alberta
Blowing snow in Oyen, Alberta

Alexandra Pope, staff writer

March 1, 2011 — Strong winds whip up snow as Prairies face another week of cold.

Poor visibility in downtown Calgary
Poor visibility in downtown Calgary

While some parts of the country have enjoyed a brief taste of spring lately, winter has stubbornly planted its feet in the Prairies.

A frontal system over British Columbia continued to spread snow over the Interior Monday, and some of that spilled over into southwestern Alberta. Gusting winds and heavy snowfall created blizzard conditions east of the Rockies, including downtown Calgary.

Poor visibility forced RCMP to close Highway 3 through Crowsnest Pass, while Highway 93 connecting Alberta and British Columbia was closed due to the high avalanche risk.

Ice crystals at sunset in Herschel, Saskatchewan
Ice crystals at sunset in Herschel, Saskatchewan

Blowing snow was also a problem in parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba Monday.

A low pressure system tracked through southern Saskatchewan, bringing a couple of centimetres of snow to Saskatoon, Humboldt and the Battlefords. That combined with wind gusts of 30 to 40 km/h created treacherous conditions on the roads.

On Tuesday, light snow was reported in many southern communities of Manitoba. While barely any snow accumulated, gusty winds in the wake of the system was more than enough to create whiteout conditions.

Blowing snow and whipping winds made driving along many highways treacherous at best Tuesday morning. Multiple accidents were reported, and as a result sections of Highway 67 had to be closed. Some students even got the day off as schools closed for the day in parts of the region.

The storm helped to usher in frigid air and some places in Alberta reached record low temperatures on Tuesday. Several areas saw the thermometer dip below the -30°C mark, feeling even colder with the windchill.

The good news is, “Tuesday will be the coldest day,” says Gerald Cheng, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. “The Prairies look to stay below seasonal throughout the week. But there's a slight warm up on Thursday from a southerly flow of air, but it will be relatively short lived.”

With files from Matt Casey and Andrea Stockton

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