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Blizzard leaves icy clutter on Saskatchewan highways, power outages in communities




Southern Saskatchewan was hit hard by an Alberta cutter overnight Wednesday, with a major storm leaving provincial highways an icy mess.

A new provincial record of wind gusts was also set for January.

A maximum speed of 143 km / h was recorded on Lake Bratts, south of Regina. Environment Canada said if it were rated on the Fujita extended scale for rating tornadoes, it would have been an EF-1.

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The cities of Saskatchewan prepare for extreme winds, freezing rain, and icy roads

Regina also set a record wind peak in January for the city at 126 km / h.

A number of other communities had peak winds of at least 120 km / h: Yellowgrass (133 km / h), Elbow (122 km / h), Mankota and Estevan (both 120 km / h).

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Winds were exceeded by just over 100 km / h in Saskatoon.

The Highway Hotline reported closed highways in the Regina, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Kindersley and Rosetown areas at the height of the storm.

Travel was not recommended on a number of other highways.

The latest highway conditions can be found at Highway hotline.

Saskatchewan RCMP spokesman Rob King said over 173 vehicles were reported abandoned or posing traffic hazards.

King said over 180 multi-vehicle collisions were reported over a 24-hour period and said the number is likely to be higher as not all collisions may have been reported to police.

SaskPower said it is working to restore energy to communities around the province, but said it is seeking patience as teams continue to deal with turbulent conditions.

SaskPower CEO and president Mike Marsh said he understands the outages are frustrating for customers.

Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and employees, SaskPower CEO and President Mike Marsh said in a statement Thursday.

We are doing everything we can to get the lights on as soon as possible without compromising the safety of our crews.

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SaskPower said it is prioritizing restoring energy to essential services first before focusing on restoring energy to customers.

A tree on a power line in Saskatchewan after a weak storm knocked down power in parts of the province on January 13-14, 2021.

SaskPower / supplied

SaskTel said it is experiencing service outages in a number of communities, while others have limited services.

Officials with the Crown corporation said there is no foreseen time to restore service.

They added that services in more communities could fail as spare batteries are depleted in areas where there are power outages and they are working to connect generators to grid sites and high-priority wireless sites.

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Wind gusts reached 137 km / h in the province on Wednesday thanks to the Alberta low-pressure cutting system

Winds were exceeded by just over 100 km / h in Saskatoon and multiple power outages were reported in the city.

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Before the low pressure system was included in the province, a record high daily number was set for January 13:

  • Wide view: 5.7 C (old record 5.0 C in 1943)
  • Buffalo shrinks: 0.2 C (old record 0.0 C in 1964)
  • Elbow: 7.2 C (old record 4.0 in 1989)
  • Estevan: 6.7 C (old record 6.2 C in 1987)
  • End Mountain Lake: 5.2 C (old record 4.0 C in 1989)
  • Prediction: 7.1 C (old record 5.6 C in 1942)
  • Regina: 6.2 C (old record 4.6 C in 1980)
  • Saskatoon: 6.4 C (old record 6.1 C in 1942)
  • Swift current: 7.3 C (old record 6.7 C in 1894)
  • Uranium City: -3.1 C (old record -5.9 C in 1981)
  • Watrous: 5.0 C (old record 3.5 C in 1986)
  • Weyburn: 7.8 C (old record 5.0 C in 1983)
  • Wynyard: 6.0 C (old record 5.0 C in 1987)
  • Yorkton: 5.3 C (old record 4.4 C in 1943)

A winter storm warning remains in place for the Hudson Bay region as the system moves into Manitoba.

Environment Canada said overnight frozen rain has now changed to snow, with two to four inches of snow expected before snow falls on Thursday night.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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