Monday, February 26, 2018

Pincher Creek rallies to deal with extreme winter weather event

Snow drifts on Pincher Creek's north hill west of the Ranchland Mall - Alyssa Cameron photo

T. Lucas/C.Davis - On Friday, February 23 blowing snow, whiteouts, and icy conditions made driving hazardous in and around southwestern Alberta. At 5:35 pm 511 Alberta announced Highway 3 was closed from Pincher Station to Fort MacLeod, with Highway 6 open southbound only into Pincher Creek from Highway 3. Highway 3 was also closed 10 miles west of Coleman due to a motor vehicle collision. Travellers were diverted into the town of Pincher Creek, where hotels and motels were quickly filled to capacity. For hours prior to the closures travel on area highways was extremely dangerous due to lengthy stretches of whiteouts and snow drifts. Rapidly drifting snow in the town also stranded many motorists, and area roads were littered with stuck vehicles.

The Town of Pincher Creek set up an Emergency Operations Center at approximately 3:30 pm. By 4:00 pm a reception center was established in the Town Hall gymnasium, and another was established at the Vertical Church at 10:00 pm. It was a cooperative effort from the Town of Pincher Creek, the MD of Pincher Creek, Alberta Transportation, Pincher Creek Emergency Management Personnel (PCEMS), RCMP, and a number of other organizations (see below). Fifty eight people sheltered in the emergency reception centers. An additional 47 people registered but took shelter elsewhere.

The Vertical Church Reception Centre closed at 9:30 am Saturday, February 24. The Emergency Operations Center stood down and the Town Hall reception centre closed at 1:30 pm Saturday.

According to Mayor Don Anderberg "Everyone appreciated having a place to go," as he was active at both reception centers. Crews were kept busy (and remain busy today) clearing roadways.  "We moved a lot of snow. It was a big event."

Semis sheltering at the Ranchland Mall Feb. 23 - C. Davis
PCEMS Deputy Chief Pat Neumann said, "We haven't seen conditions like this around here for a very long time." PCEMS staff were at both reception centers to deal with emergencies, as well as four emergency calls to the station to go out to. Neumann said he checked on the wind speeds throughout the night, and they were consistently around 100 km/hr. According to Environment Canada, peak gusts of 106 kilometres per hour were recorded for Pincher Creek.  Temperatures hovered around -15C.

According to Town of Pincher Creek Economic Development Officer Marie Everts, the following were involved in the cooperative effort to deal with the situation:
  • RCMP
  • Town of Pincher Creek
  • M.D. Of Pincher Creek
  • P.C. EMS
  • Search and Rescue
  • Alberta Transportation
  • Vertical Church
  • Volker Stevin
  • Volunteers from the Public
  • Food was supplied by The Bent Fork, Tim Horton’s, and Pincher Creek Co-op
Note: We're compiling photos and videos of the extreme weather events of February 2018.  Please email any submission to and include a credit for the photographer if desired.

From Cowley to Pincher Creek Feb. 23, approximately 2:30 pm, Highway 3 and Highway 6 - C. Davis

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