Whiteout conditions covered most of southern Saskatchewan last weekend, as a winter storm system swept through the region with strong winds and lots of snow.
This kept CAA Saskatchewan roadside assistance crews busy not only in Swift Current but around the province helping stranded motorists that might have fallen victim to the harsh conditions.
“It looks like 9 calls were put in over the weekend in Swift Current,” says Christine Niemczyk, CAA Saskatchewan’s Director of Corporate Communications and Media Relations. “Over the weekend as well we don’t have that typical Monday to Friday to work traffic, so that might have played a part. I think most people paid attention to the weather warnings that the storm was coming.”
“The majority of those calls were for winches, which means tow trucks were out there pulling motorists and their vehicles out of snowbanks and icy situations,” adds Niemczyk.
Provincially, CAA Saskatchewan had a total of 653 calls for roadside assistance last weekend.
The storm caused blowing snow and near-zero visibility on area highways, along with road closures due to accidents.
Niemczyk notes that last weekend’s blast of winter is a good opportunity to remind motorists of the importance of an emergency kit in the event they get stranded on the highway.
“Make sure you’re travelling with a properly charged phone to use for road assistance or check the Highway Hotline. Roadside assistance kits should have non-perishable food, water, blankets, and extra winter gear for the driver and passenger. Your vehicle could become a second home.”
In addition, she recommends putting yourself and your vehicle in a safe position if stranded and staying inside the car or truck until help arrives.
“Mark your vehicle if you are stranded on the side of the road. Put the emergency flashers on. Roll down your window and put a blanket or flag outside to signify that you need help.”
Before you embark on area highways this winter, Niemczyk explains to check the road and weather conditions and postpone travel if necessary.
If you are driving on roadways this winter, she says the most important thing to remember is to drive to the conditions and be prepared.
“Make sure you drive with a half to a full tank of gas, and winter tires are also recommended due to the traction capability. Keep your lights on to make sure you’re visible to other vehicles. Make sure your exterior and front and back lights are on. If you do need to pull over, pull over when safe to do so.”
This past weekend, the Saskatchewan RCMP received 139 weather-related calls for service.
The figure includes calls for traffic collisions, as well as traffic hazards such as vehicles stuck in snowbanks.
Approximately a third of these calls (49) were received from the area around Regina – in the White Butte, Indian Head, Moose Jaw, Southey, Lumsden, Milestone and Weyburn detachment areas.