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Cold front turns spring-like conditions back to winter

A heavy snowfall and plunging temperatures enveloped Calgary on Thursday, causing traffic snarls during the afternoon rush hour.

Environment and Climate Change Canada said a narrow band of heavy snow was moving through the area, bringing up to 10 centimetres of snow and nearly zero visibility.

“Heavy snowfall will taper off this evening,” it said. “Be prepared to adjust your driving with changing road conditions.”

Cochrane RCMP reported there was a multi-vehicle collision in the westbound lanes of the Trans-Canada near Highway 40.

It said traffic was at “a stand still” while vehicles were removed, recommending drivers stay off the highway if possible until the weather improved, or choose an alternative route.

At least 15 passenger vehicles were being towed, with two semis being removed from ditches, when RCMP were on the scene.

Const. Bonnie Sauve with the Cochrane RCMP says some people were taken to the hospital as a precaution but no serious injuries were reported.

“Everyone was very lucky given the circumstances yesterday,” Sauve told CBC News.

In Calgary, slippery roads resulted in a slew of collisions. 

Between midnight and 11:30 a.m. Friday, there were 53 non-injury collisions and three injury collisions, according to data from Calgary police.

Three hit-and-runs were also recorded, with one resulting in injuries.

The heavy snow came after the warm temperatures that Calgarians had enjoyed earlier in the day vanished.

During the early afternoon, temperatures dropped from around 10 degrees to below freezing in less than hour.

A cold front arriving from northern Alberta was behind the sudden changes.

The city hit a low of –11 C at around 1 a.m. Friday.

With the wind chill, temperatures could feel as cold as –25 C overnight Friday. Wind chill is an approximate measure of how cold it feels during chilly, windy weather. It’s based on the effects of wind velocity and low temperature on skin.

Environment Canada issued a weather warning for the Calgary area and the mountain parks. The mountain areas and parts of the Foothills were expected to get snow Thursday evening, with the snowy weather  expected to continue through Sunday.

Environment Canada suggests people prepare for cold temperatures and slippery conditions. If you’re heading outside, dress warm and be prepared for wet areas to freeze.

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