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Heavy snow snarls Edmonton traffic

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1Heavy snow snarls Edmonton traffic Empty Heavy snow snarls Edmonton traffic Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:03 am



EDMONTON - A few hours of heavy snowfall blanketed streets and snarled traffic in and around Edmonton on Wednesday, reducing visibility to almost nothing and causing dozens of collisions in snowy intersections.

A total of about 85 car crashes were reported in Edmonton between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. Nine of those were injury collisions.

CTV meteorologist Josh Classen said the last time Edmonton had this much snow fall in one December day was on Dec. 4, 2009, when 16 centimetres fell in the city. The cumulative snowfall is similar to what the city had in 2006, he said.

The snowfall added about 15 more centimetres of fluffy snow to some areas around Edmonton. With the snow that was already on the ground, the total snow depth in Edmonton is about 20- 25 centimetres, he said.

Light snow started Wednesday morning but became heavier as time went on, moving over Edmonton, Sherwood Park and St. Albert, and dropping a band of snow in an area extending from Whitecourt to Leduc.

By mid-afternoon, RCMP detachments in Morinville, Stony Plain and Whitecourt had issued warnings about poor road conditions as near whiteout conditions hit highways north and west of the city, and motorists were being advised to stay home.

Skies cleared in the afternoon, though highways around Edmonton remained in poor driving condition.

In the city of Edmonton, plows and graders were out in force, targeting major roads, bus routes, bridges and hills, and the river valley in preparation for the afternoon commute. Hired graders were scheduled to join city crews at midnight Thursday.

“Weather — we take it as it comes,” said Bob Dunford, director of roadway maintenance, speaking to media outside the city’s central maintenance yard.

He said Edmonton’s arterial roads should be cleared by noon Thursday, and the city will look at whether to impose a seasonal parking ban.

Despite a heavier than usual snowfall in November, the city’s snow-clearing budget is expected to remain “favourable” through the end of the year, Dunford said. But there’s always the possibility of more curveballs.

“We’ll see what December brings us,” Dunford said. “I always hesitate to forecast too much with the budget because you never know what’s around the corner.”

Dec. 21 marks the official beginning of winter.

Classen said there is minimal snow forecast for the next few days, but some potential for heavy, wet snow to fall on Sunday as temperatures warm to around 0 C.

Environment Canada meteorologist Dan Kulak said November and December typically see the highest snowfalls in the Edmonton area, with January and February being the driest winter months. Edmonton then sees snow falls pick up again as spring approaches.

Kulak said this year may be a more normal Edmonton winter, with large dumps of snow.

With files from Brent Wittmeier and Jodie Sinnema

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