Mother Nature delivered on a promised winter storm for Monday, blowing through much of the province with freezing rain, intense periods of blowing snow and a rapid drop in temperatures.
Environment Canada had issued winter storm warnings for the Edmonton area as well as for communities including Drayton Valley, Fort Saskatchewan, Grande Prairie, Hinton, Camrose, Lloydminster, Wainwright, Mayerthorpe, Athabasca and Edson.
Other parts of the province such as Brooks, Strathmore, Drumheller, Coronation, Medicine Hat, and Stettler, are under wind warnings, while extreme cold warnings, forecasting wind chill temperatures near -45 overnight, were issued for the northernmost regions of the province.
Snowfall warnings have been issued for Crowsnest Pass, Pincher Creek, Kananaskis, Canmore, Nordegg, Peace River, High Prairie, Slave Lake and other areas.
On Monday evening, the weather agency also issued a snow squall watches and warnings for areas around Calgary, Airdrie, Drumheller and Red Deer. A snow squall is characterized by brief but intense periods of snowfall. Environment Canada urged people to be should be on the lookout for adverse weather conditions and take necessary safety precautions.
The 511 Alberta road service said on social media that it strongly advises against non-essential travel around Ponoka and Red Deer as roads are extremely icy with high winds causing whiteout conditions and zero visibility at times.
In an alert for Edmonton, St. Albert and Sherwood Park issued early Monday, Environment Canada warns of patchy freezing rain along the Yellowhead Highway corridor between Entwistle and Edmonton.
Edmonton was at its forecast high of 1 C by 10 a.m. Monday, with a sharp drop in temperature expected to a low of –21 C overnight, with wind chill overnight making it feel like –32.
Calgary was at a balmy 9 C on Monday morning, with a forecast calling for a low of –15 C overnight, with wind chill making it feel like –23.
The freezing rain is expected to move eastward toward the Saskatchewan border and expand north and south through the day.
Icy conditions should be expected on highways, Environment Canada said, adding that the freezing rain will change to snow Monday afternoon.
Strong northwest winds will develop in the afternoon, with wind gusts of up to 80 kilometres per hour causing poor visibility in blowing snow in the afternoon and evening. The winds will taper off overnight.
Along with the northwest winds, temperatures will drop rapidly, Environment Canada said. Temperature drops of between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius are possible in a short period of time.
Surfaces that are wet from the earlier precipitation may freeze, causing more icy conditions.
"Visibility will be suddenly reduced to near zero at times in heavy snow and blowing snow," Environment Canada said.
"Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery. There may be a significant impact on rush-hour traffic in urban areas."
The Edmonton Police Service reported 37 collisions between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. Monday — four injury collisions, one hit-and-run and 32 property-damage crashes.
"The freezing rain earlier this morning has made city streets extremely slippery," police spokesperson Scott Pattison said in a traffic advisory.
"If you have to go out this morning, please drive slow and maintain a healthy space between you and the other vehicles on the road."
Shortly before 10:30 a.m., police reported 40 vehicles stuck in the eastbound and westbound lanes of the hill on 23rd Avenue between 119th Street and Magrath Road in southwest Edmonton. The road is "incredibly slippery," police said.
'Do not drive' in Parkland County
The 511 Alberta road service reported a traffic advisory Monday morning for Parkland County, west of Edmonton.
"Do not drive on Parkland County roadways at this time unless it is essential," the warning said. "Travel is not recommended on Highways 16, 16 A, 43, 44, 770 and 779."
Emergency services and highway maintenance vehicles were attending "at many scenes" throughout the county, the advisory said.
Highway 44 from Highway 16 to Highway 633, near Villeneuve, has been closed due to multiple collisions, 511 said.
Eastbound lanes of HIghway 16 at Highway 757, east of Entwistle, were closed due to a collision, according to 511 Alberta.
Highway 43 westbound near Township Road 545, in the Onoway area, was closed due to multiple collisions.
RCMP were on scene Monday morning at a collision on Villeneuve Road near Range Road 260, just outside St. Albert. Traffic was redirected but the road has since been reopened.