Blowing snow and freezing drizzle challenges drivers

By Glenn Hicks & Tyler Marr
November 14, 2017 - 2:08pm Updated: November 14, 2017 - 3:19pm

It's not a big storm but it is packing a punch.

Snow, freezing drizzle and winds are making the roads a challenge in much of central and northern Saskatchewan today. The storm rolling in from the Alberta foothills is hitting the Prince Albert, Meadow Lake and La Ronge areas particularly hard.

“What’s really concerning is the winds,” David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada said. “The day started off with good visibility but then things changed from about 6 a.m. when high winds mixed with the snow and rapidly brought the visibility down.”

The forecast is calling for upwards of 10 centimetres of snow by the time the weather system is due to end at supper time. Although the combination of freezing drizzle was a visibility challenge for motorists, Phillips said it did not have a major impact on the actual road surfaces.

“The freezing drizzle isn’t so bad because it’s landing on snow that’s already fallen as opposed to directly on the pavement or sidewalks,” he said.

But that mix of snow and freezing drizzle was making life tough for towing crews like Shell River Towing.

Owner Casey Reimer responded to six winches and three or four tows by noon.

“We’ve got lots of people in the ditch,” Reimer told paNOW during a rare break in his day. “Lots of times it’s the ice or too much snow build up. Drivers catch the edge and in they go.”

The freezing drizzle was adding to the density of the accumulations.

“Things get slicker and the density of the mix makes it a lot harder to pull people out of the ditch,” Reimer said.

This packed snow is also keeping city cleaning crews busy, according to Roadways Manager Brent Kennedy.

"What we are concentrating on is our main roadways like Second Ave., Sixth Ave. and Marquis Road and the hill areas with our graters," he said.

Currently, four sanders are making their rounds on city streets and Kennedy says these routes will be revisited until the storm subsidies.

At this time, the city will focus on bus routes and downtown roadways. Crews are coming in early, around 4 and 5 a.m. to help clear things up for the morning commute Wednesday.

"Slow down and be patient," Kennedy asked of motorists. "These temperatures and snowfall conditions are perfect for icy surfaces. We will keep coming and revisiting areas, so slow down and be cautious."

School bus routes were also impacted by the weather. Carlton Comprehensive issued a statement saying the Spruce Home, Wild Rose and Christopher Lake busses will pick up students early and be departing the school at 2 p.m.

 

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