Saskatoon preparing emergency plan for extreme snowstorms

Saskatoon City Council on Monday instructed administration to develop an emergency response plan in case another major snowstorm hits.

The move comes after the city saw almost half a metre of snow over two days last November. The last time Saskatoon saw that amount of snow was in 2007.

The plan would include guidelines for when the plan takes effect and mandates on which areas to prioritize for snow removal.

An administration report to council suggests funding a Major Natural Event Reserve to offset operational and capital expenses in response to a major natural event, including a snowstorm.

However, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) meteorologist Terri Lang said it’s almost impossible to predict when the next major snowstorm will hit.

Lang said it could be next year or decades from now.

“Thirty-year averages tell us that Saskatoon can expect a snowstorm with greater than 25 centimetres of snow about once every 10 years or so.

“However, some storms with less than 25 centimetres but more wind can create some really gnarly conditions for cities as well.”

While her agency may forecast a major snowstorm once every 10 years, it doesn’t mean only one storm will hit in 10 years, she said.

Terry Schmidt, general manager of transportation and construction, told council it would work with ECCC and other national monitoring organizations for their expertise and predictions.