Freezing rain shuts down highways, cancels school buses in Edmonton region

Freezing rain fell overnight in parts of central Alberta, including the Edmonton region, leaving area highways dangerously slick Wednesday morning.

Environment Canada had issued special weather statements and freezing rain warnings on Tuesday for much of central Alberta, saying overnight rain would freeze on contact, leaving surfaces slick and icy.

The greatest potential for freezing rain was in the areas between Whitecourt and Edmonton, the weather agency said.

Read more: Freezing rain falls overnight in Edmonton, other parts of central and southern Alberta

As of 7 a.m. Wednesday, rainfall was being reported across the Edmonton region, including in St. Albert and Sherwood Park, and most of the weather warnings remained in effect.

Treacherous Edmonton-area highways

While roads inside Edmonton were not in as terrible shape early Wednesday, it was a different story outside the city.

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To the south, the QEII was shut down between Leduc and Millet Wednesday morning, where the local fire department said it responded to several collisions on Alberta’s most major highway.

The Millet Fire Department said overnight rainfall was freezing as it landed on the road and driving was not recommended — for any reason — in on any area roads.

“When we left scene, multiple semis were stopped in both lanes of both directions, effectively blocking all traffic from flowing,” the fire department shared on Twitter around 7:30 a.m.

“We recommend avoiding travel until all roads are confirmed as sanded/salted.”

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Highways west of Edmonton were also treacherous Wednesday.

Highway 60 north of Devon was a skating rink in the early morning hours and further west, 511 Alberta said Highway 16 was closed for a few hours near Wabamun Lake because of extremely icy roads.

The government agency said the highway reopened just after 6 a.m.

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School buses not running

Some school divisions cancelled buses — some just for the morning, and others for the entire day. As of 7 a.m., the Edmonton-region bus cancellations sent to Global News were:

Parkland School Division: All buses are cancelled for the entire day. All schools are open.

Black Gold School Division: All buses are cancelled for the entire day. All schools are open.

Enoch Cree First Nation: All morning school buses cancelled.

Elk Island Catholic Schools: All buses are cancelled for the entire day. All schools are open.

Elk Island Public Schools: All morning buses cancelled. A decision about afternoon buses will be made by noon. Families impacted will be contacted directly. All EIPS schools remain open and classes will continue as scheduled.

Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools: All morning buses cancelled. A decision on afternoon buses will be made between noon and 1 p.m. and families will be notified.

St. Albert Public: Buses are running, but delays expected.

Wolf Creek Public Schools: Bus drivers were given the discretion to cancel their runs. Drivers were calling parents and details were being posted on the Wolf Creek Public Schools webpage.

Both of Edmonton’s public and Catholic school boards said that buses were running inside the city, but that there could be delays.

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Multiple freezing rain events this season

Less than two weeks ago, freezing rain had a major impact on the morning commute in Edmonton and surrounding areas.

Click to play video: 'Freezing rain wreaks havoc on Alberta highways' Freezing rain wreaks havoc on Alberta highways

Freezing rain wreaks havoc on Alberta highways – Nov 25, 2021

Three people were killed in two different fatal collisions on area highways, and Edmonton Transit bus service was suspended for a period of time on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 25.

Read more: Freezing rain wreaks havoc on roads in Edmonton region, several fatal collisions Thursday morning

Flights were also put on hold at the Edmonton International Airport for a period of time due to icy runways.

For up-to-date road conditions, follow 511 Alberta on social media.

Want your weather on the go? Download the Global News Skytracker weather app.

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— more to come…

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