Saskatchewan woke up to an icy blanket of snow Wednesday as winter officially arrived.
That meant driving conditions were slippery and for the most part slow-moving. For Kevin, the morning commute into Saskatoon from Langham took twice as long as usual, mostly because the snow-pack eliminated the left driving lane.
“It’s a typical highway to Langham, the left lane is totally snow-covered a few semi-trucks drove on the right lane so I could follow their tracks,” he said, adding it was clear the late-evening rainfall on Tuesday meant the snow was covering ice.
“Every time I touched the brakes I could feel myself slip a little bit.”
Between 6:30 and 10 a.m. the RCMP dispatch centre answered more than 25 complaints of car crashes including a number of rollovers and cars sliding off highways.
The majority of crashes originated in the Saskatoon area and southern areas of the province. RCMP said none of these collisions resulted in any
serious injuries. By noon, a semi had blocked the westbound lanes of the Trans-Canada Highway west of Regina by Pinkie Road. Mounties expect it will take several hours to clear the semi, and drivers should expect significant delays.
As of Wednesday morning, 12 sanders were out on Saskatoon roads, pouring sand and salt onto bridges as well as downtown and priority streets. Six sidewalk plows focused on scraping ice off walkways and priority streets, and eight high-speed plows cleared snow away on Circle Drive.
Salt and a sand-salt blend will be applied as the day goes on to deal with icy conditions. However, city planners aren’t sure what effect high winds may have on the roads.
Drivers on Highway 11 between Saskatoon and Regina found themselves in a much different situation as one of Saskatchewan’s busiest highways came to a halt after a lineup of semis got stuck in a valley around Dundurn near Blackstrap.
“About 20 semis were lined up in the north and southbound lanes,” Craig said. “The road is so icy trucks had to slow down so they wouldn’t slide off the road, but when they tried to go up the hill they didn’t have enough speed to make it up the hill so they started to spin out.”
While passenger cars were getting through the log jam, Ministry of Highway crews came in with some sand to help with traction. While the lineup of semis has cleared up, the provincial highway hotline doesn’t recommend travel on the highway between Dundurn and Lumsden.
Travel is also not recommended on Highway 5 between Saskatoon and Humboldt as well as Highway 2 between Wakaw and St. Louis. See the latest highway updates here.
Wind may also be impacting some flights out of both Regina and Saskatoon. A travel alert from Air Canada warns travelers that some flights may be delayed or canceled Wednesday.