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Motorists brace for ‘slick’ morning commute as snowfall intensifies Monday evening

The first major snowfall of the season has arrived, and it isn’t expected to let up until late Monday night, says Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The agency expects snow to continue to fall in Calgary and the surrounding area until roughly midnight, with cold temperatures potentially worsening road conditions for Tuesday morning. 

Heather Rombough, a meteorologist with the agency, said accumulations so far have matched the forecast.

“We’ve had around five millimetres of precipitation fall. Most of it has been snow, but it’s very wet. So a lot of it’s melting so far, but we will see a little bit more accumulation through this evening,” said Rombough.

She added that while snow will taper off through the night, in could linger throughout Tuesday and into Wednesday in some parts of southern Alberta.

Temperatures will remain cold throughout the week, with Tuesday night dropping to –14 C, said Rombough.

“The normal low for this time of year is –3, so it’s quite a bit below normal.”

With Monday evening’s snow and cold temperatures on Tuesday morning, Rombough said drivers should take care. 

“The commute tomorrow morning might not be great just because it will be colder tonight. So the roads might be a bit slick.”

A snowfall warning remains in effect for parts of central and southern Alberta.

In a release on Monday afternoon, the City of Calgary said its crews have been monitoring roads throughout the day and applying materials where necessary.

A person scrapes the window of their black car.
A Calgarian scrapes their car on Monday afternoon. (Jo Horwood/CBC)

On Sunday, Environment and Climate Change Canada said it expected a two-day snowfall event to begin Monday. 

Erin Staunton, a meteorologist with the agency, said up to 15 centimetres of snow is expected to fall in the Calgary area, starting early Monday morning through to Tuesday evening. 

“Some of the snow that does fall will melt on contact when it hits the warm ground, so that’s going to lead to a lot of variability in the snowfall accumulations that we’re expecting to see,” said Staunton. 

“It’s certainly not unprecedented for this time of year, [but] it is going to be a bit of a shock to the system, given the warmer temperatures that we’ve been seeing up until now,” said Staunton. 

Chris McGeachy, a spokesperson with City of Calgary mobility, said the city’s crews are well prepared for the first signs of winter. 

“We’ve been preparing for this for at least a few weeks now. We have crews getting their equipment ready, they’re getting the work plans ready, they’re applying anti-icing and materials to those trouble spots like bridges and hills and intersections.” 

McGeachy is expecting a “normal snowfall” and said that while he’s confident the city’s crews will be able to effectively clear streets, drivers should take care and give themselves more time to reach their destinations. 

“We’re no longer in those dry weather conditions, so when you head out on your commute, you might notice a little more slick conditions.”

When the snow begins to fall, McGeachy said, the city focuses primarily on major routes such as Crowchild Trail and Glenmore Trail. 

“I think we all acknowledge it’s very difficult to predict the weather. So we just try to manage it the best we can and remind people that we live in a winter city, so just be prepared for winter weather.”

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