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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Major winter storm hits Pincher Creek area

Snowfall aftermath in Cowley Feb. 7
Headlines:
  • Pincher Creek Emergency Services responds to two collisions
  • Weather event snowfall totals to February 6
  • Section of Highway 3 closed for a day, travellers stranded in Crowsnest Pass
  • A boon for Castle Mountain ski resort
  • Snow removal ongoing

A winter snowfall event of epic proportions hit southern Alberta Saturday afternoon, February 4. Avalanche conditions were reported for some areas of Castle Mountain and avalanche conditions at Waterton Lakes National Park were reported to be extreme in alpine and treeline areas, and high below the treeline. Waterton reported snowfalls of 112cm-120cm. Pincher Creek Emergency Services responded to two collisions on Highway 3. Temperatures were in the mid to low -20s C during the weather event. Maintenance crews have several days of cleanup to accomplish. According to The Weather Network, the temperature in Pincher Creek at this time (Tuesday evening) is reported at -30 C, but temperatures are expected to continually rise over the next several days. Mainly sunny conditions projected for the next seven days, with the exception of Thursday, February 9, which is forecast to include snow and rain showers and a high of +4 C.

Pincher Creek Emergency Services responds to two collisions

Just after 8:00 pm yesterday, February 6, Pincher Creek Emergency Services (PCES) and Lundbreck Fire Hall responded to a rear end collision between a tractor trailer and a pickup truck on Highway 3 at the Highway 507 junction, just west of the Burmis weight scales. Both parties involved were assessed and released at the scene. Poor road conditions and weather may have contributing factors.  Traffic on Highway 3 between the Highway 22 intersection and the Lundbreck turnoff was restricted to one lane of alternating traffic during the incident response and clean up.

On Thursday February 2 at 5:50 pm PCES responded to a rear end collision between a pickup truck and a small car on Highway 3 at the intersection of  Highway 785, east of Pincher Station. No injuries were reported.  According to an eyewitness, the front and of the truck was totalled, the back side of the car was damaged, and the RCMP were on-scene shortly after the incident.

Weather event snowfall totals to February 6:
(official and *unofficial)
Section of Highway 3 closed for a day, travellers stranded in Crowsnest Pass

Highway 3 from Coleman to the BC border was closed from early morning February 6 until early morning February 7 due to blowing snow and poor visibility. Large commercial truck parking was staged at the roadside pullout in Frank on the north side of Highway 3, and emergency personnel were onsite to direct highway traffic. A Warming Centre was set up at the Elks Hall in Blairmore for stranded travellers, and accomodations in the area were full.

A boon for Castle Mountain ski resort

"Dress warm and be prepared for some of the best and deepest runs of your life." - Castle Mountain Resort

The management of Castle Mountain Resort were unabashedly ecstatic about the snowfall, reporting earlier today that "The storm total is currently sitting at 112 cms. 20 cms of that fell in the last 24 hrs." The snow base is reported to be 100cm at the base and 212cm at the summit. In 2015 the ski resort had to close early in the season. During the last couple of days the resort had to turn some people away from the "pow fest", and the Livingstone Academy decided to postpone a planned outing until the hills are less crowded. According to Castle Resort's website, "This is the storm of your dreams, have fun out there and play safe!" Management also warns skiers about rope ducking, saying "Our rope lines protect you and our patrollers. The rope lines were protecting you from explosive avalanche control. With this much snow, they are sending down very large avalanches with most charges. People ducking ropes slow down their control work which makes it longer for them to open up terrain. It also puts our patrollers as risk when they have to venture into uncontrolled avalanche terrain to look for you. This also makes it take longer for them to give patrol clearance to open lifts. Rope duckers are putting themselves, and our patrol teams at great risk. If caught, you will be dealt with harshly."

Snow removal ongoing

Town of Pincher Creek and MD of Pincher Creek crews were out in force during the snowfall event, and are likely going to be busy for days yet, based on each municipality's priority list. A huge effort in Pincher Creek began at 2:00 am this morning, focused on priority list areas including All hills and emergency routes, portions of Main Street, and School zones. According to a Town press release, "The operations department is anticipating removal in residential areas will take place in approximately 72 hours." Citizens are asked to sweep off vehicles so they can be seen by snow removal equipment operaters, to park off-street whenever possible, and to clear around nearby fire hydrants.

From the press release: "Please do not clear snow from private property onto the street. ATV (quad) use is permitted on private property (ie. Clearing driveways) Snow being removed from private property and driveways cannot be placed on the roads. The bylaw department will not be seeking-out kind citizens to ticket for assisting others, they will be encouraging residents to be respectful of road rules. We are thankful to live in a community where everyone lends a hand and we have great neighbors. Thank you to everyone who is out helping each other out!"

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