RCMP in southern Alberta say dozens of vehicles were involved in a crash on Highway 1 near Brooks on Monday.
The crash happened just after 8 a.m. in the westbound lanes and involved “approximately 50-70 vehicles,” Brooks RCMP said.
In a news release issued just before 8:30 a.m., RCMP said that traffic on westbound Highway 1 at Range Road 142 was at a standstill and not expected to resume for “several hours.”
Traffic in the area was being re-routed onto Highway 1A.
“Travel on area highways is not recommended at this time due to blowing snow, icy roads and poor visibility,” RCMP said. “If travelling in the area, slow down and be aware of emergency personnel on the highway.”
As of 5:15 p.m., one lane had been opened for westbound traffic. Tow trucks and cleanup crews were hoping to have the second lane cleared by 5:30 p.m.
Police estimate a total of 70 vehicles were involved in the Highway 1 crash. Five people were injured, RCMP said. Their injuries ranged from minor to serious but non-life-threatening.
Brooks fire chief Kevin Swanson said when his crews arrived at the scene, “visibility was almost nil.”
“Seven vehicles had piled into each other and more were piling upon them. When our guys got there they counted that there was 18 and growing from there,” Swanson explained.
“You couldn’t see and that was the problem,” he said. “Nobody was moving because you couldn’t see.”
Joe Kleinsasser was heading west on the highway trying to get to work Monday morning.
“There was just a huge lineup of semis and fire trucks were blocking the westward highway,” he explained.
“Semis in the ditch and semis lined up too and pulled off on the side of the highway, both sides of Brooks, and fire trucks all over the place.”
Kleinsasser said he was forced to turn around and went to the Heritage Inn in Brooks, where a reception centre was set up for stranded travellers.
The hotel GM said they saw about 50 people came through the doors.
“It was nasty and we’re just happy to provide a place for people to go and wait out the weather conditions and the clearing of the highways,” Eric Deringer said.
The city of Brooks is located about 185 kilometres southeast of Calgary.
As of 3:30 p.m., a wind warning remained in place for Brooks, Strathmore and Vulcan.
Driving conditions poor on southern Alberta highways
Snow and wind caused treacherous driving conditions on highways in southern Alberta on Monday.
Just before 8 a.m., Airdrie RCMP issued a warning to the public about the dangerous driving conditions saying roads were “very slippery.”
“Members are currently on Highway 2 at Highway 72 for a semi-trailer rollover,” RCMP said, adding that the incident had traffic backed up in both the northbound and southbound lanes of Highway 2.
Drivers were asked to avoid travelling in the area unless absolutely necessary.
Alberta RCMP issued a warning about poor travel conditions on the QEII between Didsbury and Penhold, saying travelling in the area wasn’t recommended.
“Highway conditions include areas with zero visibility, high winds, icy and slippery roads,” a news release stated.
RCMP said members were responding to two separate jack-knifed semi-trucks on the QEII; one is in the Antler Hill area near Innisfail and the other near the Fas Gas in Bowden.
“Single-lane traffic southbound is occurring in these areas,” RCMP said.
“Visibility is poor and emergency crews are at several locations along that area of the highway assisting motorists.”
Strong winds batter southern Alberta
A strong low pressure system developed in Alberta on Sunday, resulting in fierce westerly winds across southern portions of the province.
Wind warnings remained in place across much of central and southern Alberta Monday, as the low pressure system tracks eastward.
Environment Canada released weather event information for more than 60 locations in Alberta. The following is a summary of wind gusts in kilometres per hour received by the agency, as of 11 a.m. Monday:
- Nakiska Ridgetop: 159
- Waterton Park gate: 135
- Claresholm: 124
- Ardenville: 120
- Bassano: 119
- Carway: 117
- Sedalia: 115
- Fort Macleod : 115
- Lethbridge: 113
- Blood Tribe: 111
- Barons: 111
- Raymond: 109
- Acadia Valley: 109
- Sheerness: 109
- Pollockville: 107
- Finnegan: 107
- Kirriemuir: 107
- Iron Springs: 106
- Travers: 106
- Atlee 106
- Stavely: 104
- Hussar: 104
- Hand Hills: 104
- Cappon: 104
- Enchant: 102
- Cabin Lake: 102
- Sunnynook: 102
- Medicine Hat: 100
- Milk River: 100
- Del Bonita: 100
- Hemaruka: 100
- Bull Springs: 100
- Brocket: 98
- Consort: 98
- Warner: 98
- Fleet: 98
- Pincher Creek: 96
- Oyen: 96
- Gleichen: 96
- Social Plains: 96
- Gooseberry Lake: 96
- Buffalo: 96
- Schuler: 94
- Neir: 94
- Craigmyle: 94
- Alliance: 94
- Onefour: 93
- Vauxhall: 93
- Wrentham: 93
- Champion: 93
- Strathmore: 93
- Beiseker: 93
- Pinhorn: 93
- Queenstown: 91
- Stettler: 91
- Barnwell: 91
- Kinsella: 91
- Tide Lake: 91
- Ralston: 91
- Lodge: 91
- Lathom: 91