100 collisions reported as freezing rain wreaks havoc on Edmonton region

Click to play video: 'Freezing rain causes chaos in Edmonton-area roads again' Freezing rain causes chaos in Edmonton-area roads again
WATCH: For the second time this month, freezing rain created treacherous road conditions in Edmonton and surrounding areas. Sarah Komadina has more – Dec 8, 2021

All freezing rain warnings were lifted in Alberta shortly before 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, after overnight rain left highways dangerously slick that morning.

According to an update from the Edmonton Police Service, 100 collisions had been reported in the city limits as of 3 p.m. Of those, four involved injuries, 77 involved property damage and 19 were hit and runs.

Environment Canada had issued special weather statements and freezing rain warnings on Tuesday for much of central Alberta, saying overnight rain would freeze on contact, leaving surfaces slick and icy.

The greatest potential for freezing rain was in the areas between Whitecourt and Edmonton, the weather agency said.

Read more: Freezing rain falls overnight in Edmonton, other parts of central and southern Alberta

Rainfall was reported across the Edmonton region Wednesday morning, including in St. Albert and Sherwood Park.

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Click to play video: 'Edmonton early morning weather forecast: Wednesday, December 8, 2021' Edmonton early morning weather forecast: Wednesday, December 8, 2021
Edmonton early morning weather forecast: Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Treacherous Edmonton-area highways

While roads inside Edmonton were not in as terrible shape early Wednesday, it was a different story outside the city.

East of Edmonton near Elk Island National Park, three semis jackknifed in the eastbound lanes of Highway 16, at Range Road 210.

Fort Saskatchewan RCMP said that traffic snarl happened just before 7 a.m. and icy roads are believed to have caused it. No one was injured.

Police said traffic was still blocked as of 9:30 a.m. and due to icy conditions, it was not safe to divert traffic. Travel was not recommended and drivers were asked to avoid the area.

A vehicle struck a light standard on the on-ramp to Whitemud Drive at Anthony Henday Drive on the east side of Edmonton during slippery road conditions Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021. Global News

To the south, the QEII was shut down between Leduc and Millet Wednesday morning, where the local fire department said it responded to several collisions on the major Alberta highway.

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The Millet Fire Department said overnight rainfall was freezing as it landed on the road and driving was not recommended — for any reason — on any area roads.

“When we left (the) scene, multiple semis were stopped in both lanes of both directions, effectively blocking all traffic from flowing,” the fire department shared on Twitter around 7:30 a.m.

511 Alberta tweeted around 11:30 a.m. that the jackknifed semi had been cleared and all lanes were reopened. The provincial agency warned Highway 2A remained covered in snow and ice and drivers were urged to use caution.

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Highways west of Edmonton were also treacherous Wednesday.

Highway 60 north of Devon was a skating rink in the early morning hours and further west, 511 Alberta said Highway 16 was closed for a few hours near Wabamun Lake because of extremely icy roads.

The government agency said the highway reopened just after 6 a.m.

Between midnight and 8:15 a.m., Alberta RCMP said there were two injury collisions and 15 property damage collisions reported across the province.

The crashes happened in or near Maycroft, Okotoks, Red Deer County, Grande Prairie, Beaver County, Red Deer, Lacombe County, Wetaskiwin, Leduc, Edson, Leduc County and Strathcona County.

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As of 11 a.m., RCMP reported an additional injury collision had been reported and an additional 51 property damage collisions have been reported, bringing the total since midnight to three injury collisions and 66 property damage collisions across the province.

Shortly after 5 p.m., the RCMP provided another update on collisions in the province. They said that since midnight, there had been seven injury collisions across Alberta “in RCMP jurisdiction,” along with 161 property damage collisions.

Paramedics called to over 100 slips and falls in Edmonton area

Kerry Williamson, a spokesperson for Alberta Health Services, told Global News that EMS personnel had an “extremely busy day” on Wednesday, “due in large part to more than 100 emergency calls for slips and falls related to the treacherous weather conditions throughout the day.”

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“That is well above the number of calls we might receive on an average winter’s day,” he wrote in an email. “Because of this high demand, there were several instances where a code red was called.

“A code red does not mean that there are no resources available; instead, they allow us to respond to emergencies by using tactics such as repositioning units from other communities, deferring non-urgent transfers, deploying supervisors and using single paramedic response units as needed.”

Williamson said EMS was able to respond to all 911 calls in the region on Wednesday and that the health authority is “extremely grateful” for the hard work and dedication from EMS staff “in challenging circumstances.”

“We are also very grateful to our first responder partners, including fire, police and our contracted EMS partners, for their support,” he said.

School buses not running

Some school divisions cancelled buses — some just for the morning, and others for the entire day. As of 7 a.m., the Edmonton-region bus cancellations sent to Global News were:

Parkland School Division: All buses are cancelled for the entire day. All schools are open.

Black Gold School Division: All buses are cancelled for the entire day. All schools are open.

Enoch Cree First Nation: All morning school buses cancelled.

Elk Island Catholic Schools: All buses are cancelled for the entire day. All schools are open.

Elk Island Public Schools: All morning buses cancelled. A decision about afternoon buses will be made by noon. Families impacted will be contacted directly. All EIPS schools remain open and classes will continue as scheduled.

Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools: All morning buses cancelled. A decision on afternoon buses will be made between noon and 1 p.m. and families will be notified.

St. Albert Public: Buses are running, but delays expected.

Wolf Creek Public Schools: Bus drivers were given the discretion to cancel their runs. Drivers were calling parents and details were being posted on the Wolf Creek Public Schools webpage.

Both of Edmonton’s public and Catholic school boards said that buses were running inside the city, but that there could be delays.

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Multiple freezing rain events this season

Less than two weeks ago, freezing rain had a major impact on the morning commute in Edmonton and surrounding areas.

Click to play video: 'Freezing rain wreaks havoc on Alberta highways' Freezing rain wreaks havoc on Alberta highways
Freezing rain wreaks havoc on Alberta highways – Nov 25, 2021

Three people were killed in two different fatal collisions on area highways, and Edmonton Transit bus service was suspended for a period of time on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 25.

Read more: Freezing rain wreaks havoc on roads in Edmonton region, several fatal collisions Thursday morning

Flights were also put on hold at the Edmonton International Airport for a period of time due to icy runways.

For up-to-date road conditions, follow 511 Alberta on social media.

Want your weather on the go? Download the Global News Skytracker weather app.

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–With files from Phil Heidenreich, Global News

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