How horrible has the weather in Alberta been lately?
So horrible that even NASA noticed. The planet's authority on all things space compared Edmonton's frigid temperatures to those found in the barren, frozen surface of Mars.
It was even worse in Leedale, Alta., a hamlet north of Red Deer, which according to the Edmonton Journal, was the coldest place on Earth Friday, with a temperature reading of -40 C before wind chill.
The galactically-miserable temperatures translated to mayhem in Alberta Monday morning.
Morning temperatures were slightly warmer than the province has seen in recent days, but snowfall continued to create nightmare conditions for commuters in both Calgary and Edmonton.
Calgary faced heavy snow and high winds for the Monday morning drive, making roads exceptionally icy and slow-going.
Edmonton awoke to flurries and strong winds, resulting in poor driving conditions around the capital city.
The weather adds to complications caused by last week's blizzard and extreme cold weather combination, and police and RCMP are warning drivers roads and highways in central and southern Alberta are slippery.
At approximately 2:30 Monday afternoon a fuel truck carrying 5,000 litres of diesel lost control just north of Calgary's Airport Trail on Deerfoot Trail, resulting in a minor leak. Police say they are working to transfer the fuel before righting the truck.
As well, a man in his mid-40s was killed on Deerfoot Trail after he got out of his truck on the busy road to inspect damage from a crash.
According to the Calgary Herald the man got into a crash around 12:30 p.m. and when he stepped out of his trick to inspect the damage he was struck by another vehicle that lost control.
According to CTV Calgary, Calgary police reported 241 crashes on city streets Sunday, and several major accidents continued to tie up traffic early Monday.
Highway 881 was closed due to a serious collision and all highways in the Lac La Biche area have poor driving conditions, RCMP warned on Monday evening.
Lethbridge, Brooks, Medicine Hat, Crowsnest Pass and Cardston are all under a blowing snow warning, with wind gusts expected to exceed 110 km/h in some areas.
“Persons in or near this area should be on the lookout for adverse weather conditions and take necessary safety precautions,” warned Environment Canada.
RCMP in Olds are also asking people to avoid Highway 2 from Red Deer to Airdrie after several crashes tied up traffic, causing major delays.
Calgary Emergency Medical Services also declared a red alert Monday morning, saying there are no ambulances available to transport patients after multiple crashes tied up all available units.
"We've received quite a number of 911 calls from medically-based complaints all within a very short span, which has caused us to deplete our units quite quickly," EMS spokesman Stuart Brideaux told CBC Calgary.
However, he notes the situation is rare and shouldn't last long.
"We always have plans in place in order to free up available ambulances as soon as possible whether they are available in hospital, or units that can be deployed from other areas we can bring in from outside the city."
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According to the day's forecast, temperatures will be warmer than the province has seen in a week, with Calgary's high expected to hit -5 C and Edmonton's to climb to -4 C.
It's a sigh of relief for the province, after many areas saw wind chills plunge below -40 C late last week and into the weekend.
The weather is causing such traffic nightmares in parts of Calgary, the city is offering free towing services to several northeast communities for residents who have not been able to free their cars from massive snow drifts.
On Monday The City will be towing cars for free from streets in Taradale, Skyview, and Saddleridge. This will help us clear roads faster.— YYC Transportation (@yyctransport) December 8, 2013
“We had some pretty bad snow drifting in the northeast, and those particular communities, we will be going in and towing vehicles to the nearest safe spot, and removing snow from those streets,” transportation spokeswoman Jessica Bell told the Herald.