Concerns turn to flooding as record autumn snowstorm melts in Calgary

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Concerns turn to flooding as Calgary snow begins to melt
Wed, Oct 3: Calgarians are digging out from a record-breaking snowfall, but as the temperature begins to rise, the concern turns to possible flooding. Doug Vaessen reports – Oct 3, 2018

Streets and sidewalks were a slushy, slippery mess but the sun was shining brightly in Calgary on Wednesday after a record-breaking autumn snowstorm walloped parts of southern Alberta.

“The temperatures will reach +5C this afternoon and so that has us actually moving a little bit from snow operations to planning for that thaw that will come,” Tom Samson, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, said.

Environment Canada said nearly 33 centimetres blanketed the city between Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

In October, the city normally gets 10 centimetres of snow over the entire month.

WATCH: Calgary Transit deals with issues during October snow storm

“Men and women have been working hard through the night for the last couple of days and we just want to thank our partners from Edmonton, Medicine Hat, Okotoks and from Red Deer coming to support us in this snow event,” the city’s director of roads, Troy McLeod, said.

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Sampson said Calgary, and not the helping cities, will be footing the bill. But it remains to be seen whether other levels of government may assist, he said. There is no cost estimate yet.

“It was a very intense short-duration snowfall that occurred just before our rush hour, so that made the large difference,” said Sampson.

He added that the city will consider whether it makes sense to call in help from other communities for future out-of-the-ordinary snow events.

READ MORE: Edmonton sends 30 plows to Calgary to help with snowfall

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Several city buses got stuck on the roads Tuesday. Transit director Doug Morgan said Wednesday was a better day, but a few buses were still unable to make it up hills.

“I would call today a challenging day, but fairly conventional when it comes to winter operations.” Morgan said there will be a review of how operations can be improved in future.

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RCMP said officers responded to 83 collisions in southern Alberta over 24 hours.

Part of the main highway between Calgary and Edmonton was closed overnight due to a multi-vehicle crash involving up to 30 vehicles. One person died. The road didn’t open again until 5 a.m.

READ MORE: QE2 re-opened after overnight shutdown because of deadly multi-vehicle crash

West of Calgary, hundreds of people were stranded for up to 13 hours on the Trans-Canada Highway. Police escorted stranded motorists to a warming centre at a high school in Canmore, just outside Banff National Park, early Wednesday morning.

READ MORE: Driving west of Calgary not advised due to extreme winter conditions: RCMP

By mid-day, the Trans-Canada and secondary Highway 1A west of Calgary had reopened, but traffic was still backed up and travel was not recommended.

READ MORE: Drivers stranded for over 10 hours on Highway 1 near Canmore after massive snowfall

Rosemary Thompson, vice-president at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, landed at the Calgary Airport from Toronto on Tuesday in the thick of the snowstorm.

As she got on a shuttle bus to Banff, she asked the driver whether he had enough gas. He told her they’d be fine for two days.

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A drive that normally takes 1 1/2 hours lasted seven.

She and the 30 or so other passengers passed the time chatting. She told one visitor from the United Kingdom, who was hoping to see some fall colours, that he’d enjoy Christmas instead.

She said the driver handled everything like a pro.

“He was the picture of calm and cool all the way through this and he was watching his iPad for the 511 emergency information online and he was able to tell us what he thought was going on,” she said.

“I really give him a lot of credit because he really set the tone on the bus and everybody got through.”

READ MORE: RCMP defend Highway 1 blizzard response; ask travellers to always be prepared for rough weather

Thompson said she saw several vehicles trying to pass along the shoulder but ended up in the ditch. The whole time, she only saw one RCMP vehicle, she said.

Wednesday was a much better day, she said.

“It’s the perfect winter day in Banff — couldn’t be more beautiful.”

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— With a file from Global News

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