The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

thumb Gina CarsWebWind chills reached upwards of -40 C this past week.

The work week started off with a quite a chill this past week as Calgary residents woke up Monday morning as cold arctic air swept across Southern Alberta producing wind chills of up to -45 C in some parts of the region.

Environment Canada is reporting the weather to improve starting Saturday with temperatures expected to rise just above freezing.

But, the frigid air was still a shock to many Calgarians over the work week.

Wind chill warning

Brian Stifora, a meteorologist with Environment Canada warned that temperatures into the minus 30s, combined with winds of 15 to 20 km/hr produced extreme wind chills.

"Wind chill warnings or advisories are issued when conditions are expected to cause frostbite to exposed skin, so –30 C and below," he said.

The cold temperature paired with snow and blowing snow has made Calgary roads slick and driving conditions treacherous.

Dangerous driving conditions

According to Environment Canada, blowing snow is snow driven by wind. It reduces visibility and can cause deep drifts, which can impede transportation and make driving dangerous.

Calgarian Ali Borhot works as a gas fitter for a construction company and spends most of his days driving around the city to various construction sites checking on heaters to make sure they are staying at normal temperatures.

He said that the past week has been tough due to icy driving conditions.

"If you touched your brakes, your car would slide and shift," Borhot said about the conditions on Monday and Tuesday morning.

 People need to use common sense and gauge their driving speed appropriately for the road conditions, but common sense isn't that common and the last few days have shown people aren't driving well enough."

— Const. Mike Hagen

It seemed like everyone forgot how to drive, he added. So he said he had to be very aware of his surroundings and following distance.

From Monday up until Friday at 2 p.m., there were 975 non-injury collisions and 66 injury collisions, according to Calgary Police.

These numbers are almost doubled from last week, when the city was experiencing much better weather and road conditions.

Const. Mike Hagen of the Calgary Police traffic section said that the biggest reason for the increase in accidents was a combination of the bad weather conditions and the fact that people don't adjust their driving according to the road conditions.

IntersectionThe slippery conditions created by plunging temperatures led to a high number of accidents.
Photo by: Laura Lushington
"Just because the sign says 100 km/hr, you don't have to drive 100km/hr," he said.

"Some people just don't get it and continue to drive as if the road conditions were clear and the weather is nice."

People need to use common sense and gauge their driving speed appropriately for the road conditions, Hagen said.

"But, common sense isn't that common and the last few days have shown people aren't driving well enough."

Winter driving tips

Hagen gives the following tips for drivers during the winter months:

1. The two-second rule: Pick a light post or traffic sign and count one 1000, two 1000 to leave enough time to react in between you and the vehicle ahead of you.

2. Avoid hard braking and sharp turns: The roads may look dry with gravel covering them, but it can still be slippery.

3. Accelerate slowly, especially in intersections: "Intersections become a lot more dangerous because of stopped traffic and snow melting underneath the exhaust and refreezing, it becomes more dangerous and slippery."

4. Plan ahead: Leave early and give yourself extra traveling time and stay on main roads.

5. Maintain your vehicle: "Don't just brush off a spot on your windshield big enough to give you some line of sight. Make sure your vehicle is completely cleaned off. We have been giving tickets for people who are not cleaning the snow off their vehicles.".

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