Record snowfall clobbers western Canada

The first snowstorm of the season was a doozy for Calgary in southern Alberta, stranding drivers and causing hundreds of accidents.

It started Monday night, fast and heavy, making roads treacherous for Tuesday morning commuters. The Calgary Police Department says from Monday night through Tuesday afternoon there were 267 automobile wrecks resulting in 17 injuries. A section of the Trans-Canada Highway was shut down Tuesday afternoon, jackknifing tractor trailers.

Calgary International Airport (code: YYC) received 12.9” (32.8 cm) on Tuesday, making it the snowiest October day in the city’s history. The previous record stood for more than 100 years. It also now ranks as the seventh-snowiest day of all-time, according to a tweet from YYC Weather Records.

Also, this month (only a few day old) is now the seventh-snowiest October for the “Stampede City”. Average October snowfall is 3.9”, a third of the amount received on Tuesday. Airlines had trouble de-icing their planes, and many flights were delayed or cancelled.

The snowy weather was the result of a steady flow of moisture coming across the Rocky Mountains from a low pressure system over the Pacific Ocean. This collided with an extremely cold air mass in western Canada that had been setting up for quite some time.

The CBC reports that crews from Edmonton and other cities were called to come help clear primary roads, bringing plows and sand spreaders. Public buses couldn’t get up many of the slippery streets, so commuters with stops in the middle of hills were asked to wait at either the top or bottom. Calgary Transit reported that around 80 buses got stuck during the morning rush.

The Calgary Transportation Department has issued a snow route parking ban that lasts until Saturday morning. Parking on a snow route is not allowed during the ban in order to give crews plenty of space to clear secondary roads.

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Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist

In his 17 years of weather forecasting experience, Nick worked on air at WBBJ-TV and WRCB-TV, including time spent doing weather analysis and field reporting. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. Nick is also a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” for eight consecutive years. Nick earned his National Weather Association Broadcasting Seal in 2005.