Winter in Canada is unpredictable in general.
Winter in southern Alberta, however, can be beyond unpredictable and downright impossible to track one day to the next.
Take this weekend, which featured a balmy Saturday, where locals could be witnessed out on a few local golf courses, taking advantage of the warm weather. Sunday was a different story.
Southern Alberta was rocked by snow, high winds and highways that made even the bravest of motorists white-knuckle their way through treacherous stretches and multi-car pile-ups.
The weather stranded numerous travellers but thankfully, southern Alberta hospitality was there to bail them out. Claresholm registered 325 individuals at the emergency centre set up in that community, as the local arena mezzanine was packed with drivers who were treated to hot and cold beverages and stew and pasta meals catered by a local restaurant.
The community also housed an estimated 15-20 people, as seven homes welcomed billets.
Nanton responded in kind, as about 100 registered in that town's community centre. With hotels and motels packed for the night, eight groups of people were billeted in town and again, local restaurants pulled together to supply meals, while volunteers filled the community centre to provide whatever help they could.
Similar scenes played out throughout the south, as Fort Macleod's reception centre was opened up for about 250, as it was estimated about 300-400 cars were stranded between Lethbridge and Fort Macleod throughout the storm.
Milk River residents put up about 30 travellers, as the entire region demonstrated the type of small-town hospitality southern Alberta is known for.
But when severe weather events like this occur, and make no mistake, they will again, drivers simply need to more carefully assess the situation. Everyone has families to return to, jobs to arrive at on Monday and other life pressures to consider. However, risking life and limb when winds are approaching 90 kilometres per hour, visibility is nil and roads are slippery, does not make a lot of sense.
Disregarding common sense puts an immense amount of strain on emergency services personnel and volunteers, like the ones in southern Alberta communities which came to the rescue on the weekend.
No one likes having travel plans disrupted and their lives inconvenienced but the alternative can be much more severe. Next time, when a storm rolls through, use common sense; ask yourself if it's really worth it to head out and make the smart decision.
Comment on this editorial online at www.lethbridgeherald.com/opinions/.
TUESDAY, MAY 14, 2013
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