Calgary digs out after largest single-day snowfall of the year

Calgary experienced its largest single-day snowfall of the year during Tuesday’s spring snowstorm.

According to Natalie Hasell, a warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada, 22.3 centimetres of snow was reported at the Calgary International Airport on Tuesday.

“The low pressure system that you are still being affected by … in a large part of southern Alberta formed yesterday and really dumped a lot of snow towards Calgary,” Hasell said. 

Snowfall amounts varied throughout the city, from 15 centimetres to reports of up to 30 centimetres in Calgary’s northwest, according to Hasell. 

The heavy snowfall conditions led to many accidents on Calgary’s roads.

From noon to midnight on Tuesday, there were 139 reported collisions, according to the Calgary Police Service (CPS). Nineteen of those accidents were hit and run, and 14 caused injuries.

From midnight to 8 a.m. on Wednesday, eight collisions were reported. CPS said it expects these numbers to increase later in the day.

Large April snowfall not unusual for Calgary

Looking at climate data from 1981 to 2010, Hasell said Calgary has an average of 18.8 centimetres of snow in April. So, although this month has seen more snow than usual, a fairly large April snowfall in the city is not that surprising.

Hasell said Calgary can usually expect some snow into June.

What was somewhat unusual about Tuesday’s storm is how the north of the city had much more snowfall than the south. 

“That’s kind of a wonder because it’s almost like it was a dividing line in Calgary,” said Hasell. 

Hasell said in a low pressure system, it is often the northern side of the system that has greater precipitation. This has to do with where the cold air is located.

“In the cold air you would see higher amounts [of precipitation],” said Hasell.

“So if the track of the low [pressure system] was right over the city or right by the city, it could literally split the city in two with respect to more snow and less snow.”

City suspends street sweeping

The spring storm has led the city to suspend its street sweeping operation for the day. Last week, the city announced it would begin annual spring street sweeping on Monday, April 18.

Street sweeping planned for Wednesday will now be rescheduled to a date toward the end of the cleanup program, according to a press release from the city. Calgarians can find out when their street is scheduled to be cleaned by visiting the city’s website.

Calgary suspended its street sweeping operation for Wednesday due to the large snowfall that began Tuesday. (CBC)

Chris McGeachy, spokesperson for the City of Calgary, said crews were working through the night to plow the snow off busy roads.

“It was very tough sledding, no pun intended, especially on the north side of the city in some of those areas,” said McGeachy.

“What we’re really focused on today is … our high volume routes [and] areas that were hit the hardest. So, we’re probably going to be sending some extra equipment up north.”

What to expect in coming days

Temperatures are forecasted to increase in the coming days, but Hasell said that with a lot of snow on the ground, the city shouldn’t expect anything above plus five degrees.

But it’s not all bad news. Hasell said any temperature above zero will cause the snow to start melting. 

Natalie Hasell from Environment and Climate Change Canada says Calgarians should watch for slippery road conditions in the coming days. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Hasell said Calgarians should watch out for black ice and slippery road conditions as snow melts and refreezes over the next several days.

With files from Dave Gilson and the Calgary Eyeopener

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