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Deadly snowstorm hits the Prairies

Treacherous road conditions reported across the Prairies
Treacherous road conditions reported across the Prairies

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

March 23, 2011 — Despite the transition to the spring season, a wintery storm lead to dangerous conditions across the Prairies this week.

Spring snowman in Regina, SK
Spring snowman in Regina, SK

A powerful low pressure system that moved in from the U.S. wreaked havoc across the Prairie provinces earlier this week.

For many areas, the snow began to fall Monday evening, with the bulk of the precipitation falling through the overnight hours. Heavy snow combined with winds gusting between 60 to 70 km/h, made for some treacherous conditions on the roads.

Numerous accidents were reported on Saskatchewan highways Tuesday morning, including a fatal crash on Highway 11 near Regina. The male driver died at the scene after his vehicle slid into the median. At one point, the Highway Ministry advised drivers to stay off the roads completely due to the blustery weather.

Snow and blowing snow lead to dangerous conditions across parts of Alberta and Manitoba as well. Calgary police said they responded to over 140 car accidents on Monday night alone.

Conditions began to improve on Wednesday with mostly flurries reported throughout the region.

“Below seasonal temperatures are sticking around though,” says Rob Davis, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. “High pressure will remain in place for the next several days. And while that means drier conditions, temperatures will be between 5 and 10 degrees below seasonal.”

Seeding was a major challenge last spring due to record rainfall
Seeding was a major challenge last spring due to record rainfall

The heavy snow from this recent system combined with an exceptional winter season has some farmers concerned about the growing season.

The Canadian Wheat Board says this snowstorm could worsen what are already considered the wettest conditions for this time of year since the 1970's.

Record rainfall in 2010 forced some farmers to leave millions of acres unseeded. It also left the ground saturated before the winter season began. Now, the excessive snowpack could lead to more issues in the fields this spring. There's also the potential for a serious spring flood across the Prairie provinces.

That's not the news thirsty beer drinkers were hoping for. The wet weather and a bad barley crop could mean a spike in beer prices in the coming months.

To stay up to date on all of the conditions in your area, tune in to The Weather Network on TV where the National Forecast comes up at :02 and :32 past each hour.

You can also sign up to receive weather warnings and public alerts on your mobile phone.

With files from Matt Casey

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