Blowing snow causes adverse driving conditions in Southern Sask.
Motorists who headed out on highways in southern Saskatchewan early Tuesday morning were met with white out conditions and travel advisories.
RCMP said Highway 1 reopened, as of 10:30 a.m. Closures on most other southern Saskatchewan highways have also ended, including Highway 6, 11 and 33 near Regina.
White Butte RCMP received approximately 15 weather-related calls for service on Tuesday.
Road closures and travel recommendations come from the Ministry of Highways based on a series of factors, obstruction, surface conditions, wind and visibility.
“One of the biggest ones for us, and because it’s the prairies and because it’s always windy in Saskatchewan, is can people see or not,” said David Horth, director of communications for the Ministry of Highways.
RCMP said in a statement, from 10:00 p.m. Monday, to 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, the Divisional Operational Communication Centre received 48 weather-related calls for service from across the province.
That number does not include calls made directly to detachments.
While visibility was an issue on Tuesday morning, the storm was not considered to be full on blizzard conditions.
According to CTV Regina’s meteorologist Bradlyn Oakes, blizzard warning criteria is 400 metres of visibility or less for at least four hours, with at least 40 kilometre per hour winds.
“We had visibility less than 400 metres for about two hours earlier today between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m., but even right now we have about two kilometres of visibility,” said Oakes Tuesday afternoon. “It doesn’t seem like a lot and if you’re driving around it doesn’t look like a lot, but we do have quite a bit of visibility above what we would consider a blizzard.”
Oakes added the blowing snow and wind will drop off Wednesday morning.
During a highway closure, the ministry says the road is not being maintained as a way to keep their employees safe, and the hope is drivers will stay off the road to keep themselves and the first responders who may need to rescue you safe as well.
As conditions improved throughout the day Tuesday, closures and travel recommendations on the Highway Hotline lifted.
Horth said when they post a closure, they aren’t asking you to put off your plans indefinitely.
“When the wind is blowing we can only do our best, but we cannot keep up with nature, but as soon as that storm stops our people are very good at getting the road back into a drivable condition quickly,” said Horth.
If you have to travel during adverse conditions, SGI reminds motorists to adjust their driving to conditions and make sure you’re prepared in case you get stuck.
“Having extra jackets or blankets, an emergency kit as well, a fully charged cell phone so you can call for help, these are some of the things that you need to have and you should always have if you’re heading out on the highway,” said Tyler McMurchy, manager of media relations at SGI.
He said an emergency kit should also contain non-perishable food items and a candle for melting snow.
“If you do get stuck, stay there until help arrives,” continued McMurchy. “In these kinds of conditions it doesn’t take long for something really bad to happen to a human, you’re safe in your vehicle.”
SGI and the ministry agree motorists should always check the Highway Hotline before heading out.
The Hotline is updated in real time as updates on conditions become available.
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