Snowfall warnings issued in central, northern Alberta

Treacherous roads are causing havoc throughout central and northern Alberta, including the third fatal collision in Lac La Biche County in as many days.

Highway 881 is closed at Mile Marker 162 due to the fatal accident in Lac La Biche, and the RCMP is reporting that Highways 881, 55, 36, 663 and 858 are all in such dangerous condition that travel should be avoided until at least late tonight.

At least 10 centimetres of snow has fallen in the region since Saturday morning, worsening traction on roads that were already icy, Cst. Chris Clark of Lac La Biche, said. Black ice is also a problem.

“There is no reason anybody should be out there,� Clark said.

In addition, the RCMP is reporting that snow, ice and wind have caused a number of vehicles to lose control on Highway 63 north of Wandering River in northern Alberta, where a number of larger vehicles have had to pull off the road. A serious accident on Saturday afternoon has also caused Highway 21 to be shut down in both conditions between the Airport Road and Highway 625 north of Leduc. No estimate has been given for when it is expected to reopen.

Roads throughout Edmonton are slippery as well, with numerous accidents occurring. At one point, a snow plow ran off the road and struck a light pole in downtown.

Randy Loyk, the technical services manager for the Alberta Motor Association, said the volume of calls from distressed motorists has increased as the day has wore on, with waits for service calls exceeding 90 minutes.

“We expect (the wait times) to climb as the snow continues,� Loyk said. “It is going to continue to get worse.�

Approximately five centimetres was expected to fall in Edmonton, with warnings issued by Environment Canada for large portions of central and northern Alberta. Heavy snowfall warnings have been issued for communities just to the north of Edmonton, including Fort Saskatchewan, Vegreville, Smoky Lake, Redwater and Gibbons.

Generally, snowfall amounts of five to 10 cms are expected, with some localized areas seeing 15 cms. Other communities within the warning area include Fort McMurray, Fort McKay, Athabasca, Anzac, Barrhead, Boyle, Bonnyville, Cold Lake, High Prairie, Janvier, Lac La Biche, Peace River, Slave Lake, Wabasca, Wandering River and Westlock.

“People need to slow down, be cautious and take extra precautions,� Loyk said. “If they don’t have to go out, they shouldn’t.�

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