A freezing rain warning was issued just after noon. 6 a.m. Thursday for the Edmonton region, as overnight precipitation turned to deadly ice on the area’s roads and highways.
Environment Canada said a band of icy rain is moving east through Edmonton and the surrounding areas.
The warning was issued for the city of Edmonton and the surrounding regions, and later extended south to central Alberta.
Fatal collisions on area highways
At 7:30 a.m., the RCMP said more than 35 collisions were reported in the Edmonton area, the majority involving several vehicles.
At least two of those accidents were fatal, police said.
South of Edmonton, a crash on QEII near Ponoka around 6:15 claimed the lives of one person, the RCMP told Global News.
The motorway was closed down in a northbound direction and traffic was diverted at Ponoka to Highway 2a.
The RCMP did not know how many vehicles were involved in the accident, but video obtained by Global News showed several semi-vehicles in the ditch.
The Millet Fire Department said the area’s roads have turned to ice and that conditions at QEII are the worst the department has seen in years.
A fatal accident also occurred just before noon. 7, north of Gibbons on Highway 28. The RCMP said a semi-tractor trailer and a pickup truck collided, killing two people in the smaller vehicle.
EMS transported two other patients in stable condition to the hospital, Alberta Health Services said.
The highway was closed between Township Road 570 and 564 while a collision analyst examined the site.
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There were driver reports that both the Highway 60 bridge over the North Saskatchewan River near Devon, as well as the bridge further west near Genesee, were closed Thursday morning.
Edmonton transit and school departments stop buses
Just after 7:30 a.m., the Edmonton Transit Service said it was suspending the bus connection for 30 minutes due to frosty weather. The LRT service would continue, ETS added.
Buses would remain parked for another 30 minutes, ETS updated around noon. 8:10 On Demand Transit, and DATS also experienced delays.
The bus connection resumed around kl. 8:45, but ETS said the ripple effect from the morning would be felt for several hours.
“We expect delays throughout the system as buses will run at slower speeds due to road conditions,” the service said in a tweet.
Many school departments canceled morning buses due to the cold rain, including the Parkland School Division, Sturgeon Public Schools and Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools.
Planes stranded at Edmonton airport
Planes were put on hold at Edmonton International Airport because the runways were pure ice, a Global News reporter learned at the airport.
Darrell Winwood with the airport said there were a handful of flight delays but no direct cancellations.
He reminded passengers to check the airport’s website for their flight status before leaving home, as it is updated in real time.
Those going out Thursday should give themselves extra time and drive carefully, Winwood added.
Warning areas for freezing rain
The warning of freezing rain has an effect in and around the following communities:
- Saint Albert
- Sherwood Park
- Drayton Valley
- Pigeon Lake
- Fort Saskatchewan
- Red water
- Smoky Lake
- Spruce Grove / Steny Plain
- red deer
Surfaces such as motorways, roads, footbridges and car parks can become slippery and slippery. Be extra careful when walking or driving in affected areas.
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One of the best ways to track locally dangerous driving conditions is from local viewer reports. That #yegtrafik hashtags are often used by Twitter users who report traffic issues in Edmonton.
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