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Prairies wake up to winter

A bright and snowy morning in Calgary
A bright and snowy morning in Calgary

Alexandra Pope, staff writer

April 3, 2011 — People on the southern Prairies woke up to a thick blanket of fresh snow Sunday in the wake of a moisture-filled Pacific low.

Snow accumulation in the Prairies
Snow accumulation in the Prairies

Calgary was among the cities hardest hit by the spring snowstorm. Early Environment Canada reports estimate between 20 and 30 cm of snow had fallen on the city by 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon -- making it the biggest snowfall event Calgary has seen this winter.

The heavy, wet snow snarled traffic in the city. Between midnight and 10:15 a.m. on Saturday, police responded to 65 reported collisions. By mid-afternoon, the number of accidents swelled to 122, at least three of them involving police vehicles that were already on-scene at other collisions.

The poor conditions prompted the city to close several hilly routes even as plows were out in full force.

Other communities in southern Alberta -- which is already concerned about the potential for severe flooding from spring runoff -- were equally hard hit.

Springbank reported 18 cm of snow, Pincher Creek 24 cm, and Claresholm 25 cm.

The storm continued east into Saskatchewan, where provincial officials urged drivers to avoid several major highways Saturday night, including the main highway between Swift Current and the U.S. border.

As of Monday afternoon, Regina and Winnipeg felt below seasonal temperatures, whereas southern Alberta climbed up to 6 C.

With files from CBC Calgary

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