Winter walloped the Stettler region last weekend, with the season’s first major snowfall keeping many people without electricity and off the roadways last Saturday night and Sunday.
As predicted, just under 25 centimetres of snow fell in Stettler and throughout central Alberta, just one week after the first official snowfall in the region.
According to weather statistics, heavy, wet snow and wind knocked out power and made roadways slick for drivers, some of whom reported two-and-a-half drives from Red Deer on Saturday night for what’s normally a one-hour commute.
“The weekend winter snowstorm caused widespread power outages in rural areas around Stettler last Sunday afternoon,” said Bryon Schwartz, the customer service supervisor for ATCO in the Stettler district.
Electricity went out for about 1,200 customers north and east of Stettler in Botha, Gadsby, Red Willow, Donalda and Spruce Coulee at about 3 p.m. and was restored to most areas within two hours, he said.
Castor had minimal electricity problems, with just nine rural customers reported to be without power for about two hours.
Castor, however, was the hardest-hit region for students, as icy roads and blowing snow prevented school buses from regular runs Monday.
“We had 18 bus routes cancelled in Castor, Coronation, Halkirk and Brownfield, and just six bus routes affected for Stettler, mostly in the Donalda area,” said Maryann Wingie, transportation supervisor for Clearview School Division.
Roadways in the Stettler area were relatively quiet, with slick and snowy surfaces keeping people home. The downtown seemed like a business day, only because storeowners were busy cleaning their properties.
“We were very fortunate here that we didn’t get a lot of (accident) calls,” said Stettler RCMP detachment Sgt. Duncan Babchuk.
A couple of vehicles were reported in the ditch, along with two fender-benders Sunday and three on Monday, he said.
“We also had a couple of reports of motorists driving carelessly in town on Sunday,” Babchuk said.
“We had less snow than in Red Deer and central areas.”
No significant snowfall or storms are projected for the next two weeks, but cold temperatures that dipped to minus-17 C kept the heavy snowfall intact.
The Weather Network calls for 70 per cent chance of scattered flurries this Friday, 40 per cent chance of a few flurries next Thursday and 90 per cent possibility of light snow next Friday.
With colder weather, ATCO Electric reminds customers to always be prepared for power outages.
“People should always have a safety kit, with blankets and water and a flashlight,” Schwartz said.
“Crews will be out working quickly and safely to restore power to the affected customers.”