Up to 70 cars are piled up on the Trans-Canada Highway near Brooks, while semi-trailers have overturned on other roadways as wind and snow rip across a large swath of the southern and eastern Alberta.
RCMP say the westbound lanes of Highway 1 about 200 kilometres east of Calgary are expected to be closed for several hours.
Emergency crews are directing traffic on to a detour on Highway 1A.
“Travel on area highways is not recommended at this time due to blowing snow, icy roads and poor visibility,” said RCMP in a news release.
It’s not known whether there are any injuries at this time.
A reception area for stranded travellers has been set up at the Heritage Inn, located at 1217 2nd St. West in Brooks.
Pileup near Tilleybrook just east of Brooks, blizzard conditions continue pic taken by Paul Peesker <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/abstorm?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#abstorm</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/abroads?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#abroads</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/511Alberta?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@511Alberta</a> <a href=”https://t.co/hiABpQus76″>pic.twitter.com/hiABpQus76</a>
Southern Alberta and much of the province’s eastern edge is facing a late winter blast today with wind, snowfall and winter storm warnings blanketing the area.
Calgary is under a wind warning, with gusts up to 100 km/h expected with blowing snow.
“Damage to buildings, such as to roof shingles and windows, may occur. High winds may toss loose objects or cause tree branches to break,” reads the alert from Environment Canada.
Combined with the blowing snow, that could mean reduced visibility on the roads. The effects are being felt beyond the Brooks area.
On Highway 2 just north of Airdrie, an overturned semi was causing delays in both directions as of 8 a.m., while just east of Edmonton on Highway 16, a jackknifed semi was blocking all lanes around the same time.
Closures due to the weather were in place on secondary highways including in the areas of Oyen, Czar and Consort.
Winter storm warnings in some areas
Wind is the primary meteorological culprit throughout the south, but in the areas of Hanna and Lloydminster, winter storm warnings are in effect, while the Crowsnest Pass and Kananaskis could see heavy snowfall.
Cypress Hills and the Cardston region are also under snow squall watches, with a combination of wind and snow that could reduce visibility to near zero.
Warnings extend as far north as Fort McMurray-Fort McKay, which could see heavy snowfall.
Spring-like weather is forecast to return this week, with Calgary expected to hit a high of 13 C and Edmonton a high of 14 C on Wednesday.