Skip to main content

People walk along a pathway following a weekend of snowy weather in Cochrane, Alta., Monday, Sept. 30, 2019.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Sadie Riendeau had it all planned out. She would marry Kirby Braybrook in Waterton Lakes National Park, where her family vacationed year after year. Mountains, waterfalls, lakes, autumn leaves. The wedding would be outside, with 160 guests.

But then, last Wednesday, it started to rain. By Friday, snow. On Saturday, the bridal party posed for pictures outside, despite knee-deep snow. Come Sunday, some of the 130 guests who made it to Waterton were stranded in the park as a blizzard shut down southern Alberta.

“My dress was absolutely soaked,” the bride, who is now Sadie Braybrook, said Monday. “It felt like my dress was plowing the streets."

Story continues below advertisement

“I went up before the reception and had a bath and blow-dried my dress and we were good to go by 6 o’clock," Ms. Braybrook said.

The three-day storm blanketed Waterton with 95 centimetres of snow, a measurement that does not account for compaction. The snow measured between 50 cm to 60 cm in Lethbridge, about 150 kilometres from the park. Lethbridge College, the University of Lethbridge and scores of school divisions declared a snow day Monday. Police responded only to emergency calls. Libraries and businesses – including at least one mall – were shuttered. The city council meeting was cancelled. Power failures swept the area. Premier Jason Kenney on Monday called off an announcement tied to Highway 1A, near Calgary, because the storm’s aftermath made the highway unsafe.

But not everyone stayed home. Brenda Fettig walked an hour and a half Monday morning to her job cooking for Lethbridge’s Meals on Wheels. The snow was waist-deep in her yard and, at times, up to her knees as she tromped to work. The commute is, usually, a 10-minute drive.

“There are people depending on us,” Ms. Fettig said. “A lot of them are stuck in their homes.”

She prepared spaghetti and meatballs, along with garlic toast, and volunteers rallied to deliver the 88 meals.

The September storm, which stretched eastward into southern Saskatchewan, closed highways and will make harvest especially troublesome. An area west of Cardston, about 55 km northeast of Waterton, received between 70 cm and 90 cm. Cardston, like the Lethbridge area, is farming and ranching country.

And despite the storm’s size and snow dump, it did not bust through September records, according to Environment Canada. Lethbridge’s one-day September record, set in 1968, stands at 55 cm. The city’s three-day record is 100 cm, and was part of the 1968 storm. (The agency does not have records for Waterton). About 27 cm fell at Calgary’s airport, while the southwest side of the city was hit with about 32 cm after three days, compared with the one-day record of about 33 cm.

Story continues below advertisement

“Close-ish, but no cigar,” said Sarah Hoffman, a meteorologist for Environment Canada. “This was a significant event that had quite a few impacts, [but] it is just not that uncommon.”

There have been at least eight snowier Septembers in Calgary, she said. Environment Canada culls social media to calculate snowfall amounts where the agency does not have tools in the field.

Sadie and Kirby Braybrook, the newlyweds, hit the road Monday, headed for their home in Manitoba. Their indoor wedding, Ms. Braybrook said, was just as dreamy as the outdoor event she had in her head.

“It turned out to be a beautiful day," she said.

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter