Ten days after the official end of summer, Calgarians are already donning toques and scarves, as #Snowtober descended on the city Tuesday morning.

Many trekked through 23 cm of snow — the deepest Oct. 2 has seen since records began in 1884. The white flurry reduced visibility, caught many drivers unprepared and added as many as three hours to the morning commute.

Every year, Calgarians seem to forget the devilish effects of the first snow.

The Calgary Journal spoke to three students who recounted their hectic morning commutes to Mount Royal University.

BridgetBODYPhoto by Alec Warkentin

Bridget Williamson

CJ: How was your commute to school this morning?

I left my house around 7:30 a.m and I usually leave at around 7:45. I’m coming from Cranston, so it generally takes me 30 to 35 minutes on a normal day. Today it took me almost two hours. Deerfoot was backed up all the way through McKenzie Towne past my house and I pretty much moved 100 metres in that first half-an-hour. I barely made any progress. Once I finally got to school, there were maybe six people in my one class that wasn’t cancelled. It took my professor more than three hours to get here, as well.

CJ: What did you see on Calgary roads?

A lot of snow, obviously. Buses were stalled everywhere. Cars were stalled everywhere. People are still driving fast even though the roads were sheer ice. If I went faster than five km/h and tried to quickly break, my car would start to turn and I even luckily have winter tires on my car. I could tell that a lot of people didn’t.

CJ: How do you feel both Calgary commuters and the City of Calgary can better prepare for weather events like this?

I was surprised that I didn’t see one snow plow on the roads this morning, at least from where I was coming from. Everyone kind of knew that the snowfall was coming, so again, I was surprised to see the shock and the delay this morning. Even in the parking lot at school, there was about a foot of snow and I didn’t even know where I would be able to safely park.

As far as drivers, I think they should definitely get their winter tires on, because it is October and we live in Canada. Planning ahead and driving slower is definitely the way to go, because when you rush in weather like this, you’re putting everyone in danger.

GabrielBODYPhoto by Alec Warkentin

Gabriel Ramos

CJ: How was your commute to school this morning?

I left my home at 7:00 this morning and I drove to the Somerset train station in the deep south. Normally it takes me about 40 minutes to get to school, even with taking the train and everything, but today it took me nearly three hours to get to class. It was pretty rough. There was 10 minutes left in my first class when I finally got here.

CJ: What did you see on Calgary roads?

Well once I got off the train at Heritage station, I was able to see just a ton of buses spun around on Heritage Drive. They were sideways in the road, parked really weird with some of them almost seeming like they ran into each other. It was kind of nuts. Because of that, we had to take a detour around to Chinook — which took another hour — before we finally made our way to Mount Royal [University].

CJ: How do you feel both Calgary commuters and the City of Calgary can better prepare for weather events like this?

Everyone was already saying that it was going to snow last week, they were already predicting this. It just really felt like there was no preparation. The streets by my house were still completely covered in snow when I left and I live on a main street that usually gets plowed right away. Even now, you can see that roads everywhere still haven’t been plowed, parking lots are still full of deep snow. There could have maybe been more attention payed to the whole situation.

Even with the buses on public transit, it felt as if there could have been a lot more preparation. There were some stalled buses and I understand that something like that will happen, but it still took nearly an hour for replacement buses to show up in some cases. If they could have had more buses running, that would have been great, but I know it is tough.

ShahmirBODYPhoto by Alec Warkentin

Shahmir Qaiser

CJ: How was your commute to school this morning?

I live in Airdrie, so it usually takes me 40 or so minutes, but it took me about an hour to get down here. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too bad, but it might have been because I missed rush-hour traffic in the morning and left a bit later.

CJ: What did you see on Calgary roads?

As soon as I got into Calgary, it was pretty blocked up. Driving from Airdrie, it was relatively empty, but there were a lot of abandoned cars on the side of the road.

CJ: How do you feel both Calgary commuters and the City of Calgary can better prepare for weather events like this?

Honestly, this happens every year, so I really don’t know. As soon as it snows, everyone loses it. I guess, prepare more? I mean I need to prepare better too, I don’t even have winter tires. It’s only October, so I get why people don’t have them, but that’s definitely a priority.

There’s no business like ‘snow’ business

Between 10 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 1 and 11:30 a.m. this morning, Calgary Police Service (CPS) told the Calgary Journal there were 168 collisions reported throughout the city, with 14 resulting in injury to motorists.

In addition, five hit-and-runs were reported within the same timeframe.

Police also noted there were likely additional incidents which went unreported throughout the morning.

The City of Calgary has announced a snow route parking ban will come into effect at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3 and will remain in place for 72 hours unless otherwise noted by the city.

GraphicResizedGraphic by Robyn Welsh

Editor’s note: Interviews were condensed and edited for clarity.

awarkentin@cjournal.ca, nkunz@cjournal.ca, cmacgillivray@cjournal.ca, rwelsh@cjournal.ca

Editor: Sally Haney | shaney@mtroyal.ca

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