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2 tornadoes hit Saskatchewan campground

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More than 100 families hoped they’d be spending Canada Day in a northern Saskatchewan campground roasting marshmallows or swimming in the nearby lake.

Instead, they’ve gone home. They were forced to evacuate Meadow Lake Provincial Park when two tornadoes hit the area Saturday afternoon.

Environment Canada investigators confirmed Monday that two tornadoes touched down in and near the Murray Doell Campground 350 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon. Wind speeds reached up to 175 kilometres per hour.

Three people were injured, but many say it was miraculous no one was killed.

The families have been replaced by a work crew using chainsaws, back hoes and other heavy equipment to remove trees, flattened trailers and debris.

Workers in Meadow Lake Provincial Park spent Canada Day removing trees and other debris following a violent storm on the weekend. (Jason Warick/CBC)

Park manager Trevor Finlay said another 24 families were allowed to go back to their campsite Monday to salvage whatever belongings they could. He said 30 campsites, and the vehicles parked there, remain inaccessible.

Cleanup efforts are being hampered Monday by periodic winds and rain. Dozens of trees, weakened by Saturday’s storm, have been toppled by Monday’s wind.

“We’re trying to remove them. It also creates some safety issues getting in and out,” Finlay said.

It could be several days before the initial removals are complete, but the campsite remains closed indefinitely, he said.

tornadoes hit Saskatchewan
Periodic rain and wind are causing trees weakened by a weekend storm to fall across the road Monday in Meadow Lake Provincial Park, hampering cleanup efforts. (Jason Warick/CBC)

Finlay, like many of the families evacuated, said he was amazed by the generosity of people from Meadow Lake, Pierceland, Goodsoil, Dorintosh and other nearby communities. They were on scene in minutes with food, blankets and other items to help evacuees.

“Just an overwhelming response. I think that allowed us to be successful in getting in here and helping everyone get out in a timely manner,” he said.

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Snowfall hits Calgary, surrounding area

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Calgary drivers are in for a slow and slippery morning commute as the city gets a little blast of winter weather.

Calgary is expected to see 10 to 15 centimetres of snowfall on Tuesday, according to a warning from Environment Canada.

The agency says a low pressure system swept into southwestern Alberta late Monday and tracked east early Tuesday morning.

The snow is expected to taper off by Wednesday morning.

“Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions. Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become difficult to navigate due to accumulating snow,” the warning read.

Traffic was slow on Parkdale Boulevard N.W. as snow continued to fall Tuesday morning. (Scott Crowson/CBC)

The Calgary International Airport is reminding travellers to arrive early and check for any flight-schedule changes due to the snowfall.

Calgary Transit says two bus routes — No. 6 and No. 20 — have been detoured because of the snowfall.

Police said there were six collisions on city streets between midnight and 6:30 a.m.

The snowfall warning also covers:

  • Airdrie, Cochrane, Olds and Sundre.
  • Okotoks, High River and Claresholm.
  • Brooks, Strathmore and Vulcan.
  • Medicine Hat, Bow Island and Suffield.

A complete list of weather warnings can be viewed on Environment Canada’s website.

Rachelle McNiel shovels snow on the sidewalk outside her home on 27th Street N.W. on Tuesday. (Scott Crowson/CBC)

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François-Philippe Champagne to be Canada’s next foreign affairs minister

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François-Philippe Champagne will be Canada’s new foreign affairs minister, CBC-Radio-Canada has learned.

Champagne, who served as the minister of infrastructure and communities in the last Parliament, will replace Chrystia Freeland as Canada’s top diplomat, tasked with stickhandling the sensitive U.S. and China files.

It’s not yet known where Freeland will be moved, but she is expected to preside over a crucial domestic role as regional tensions rise across the country.

Champagne, a former trade lawyer, has served as minister of international trade in the past.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will formally unveil his new cabinet at a ceremony at Rideau Hall Wednesday afternoon.

Radio-Canada is also reporting that Jonathan Wilkinson will be the new environment minister.

Pablo Rodriguez will be the government house leader, in charge of working with opposition parties and keeping the parliamentary agenda on track. It’s a position that takes on heightened importance in a minority government.

Steven Guilbeault, a high-profile Quebec environmental activist, will be the new heritage minister, according to sources with knowledge of the appointments who spoke to CBC-Radio Canada. The sources spoke on condition they not be named because they were not authorized to comment.

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Alberta in for frigid winter, says Weather Network

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Nicole Estabrooks pedals down a snowy Calgary street on Nov. 5, 2019. Calgary has already seen several snowstorms since September.

Expect temperatures in Calgary to swing back-and-forth throughout a winter that’s slightly colder than average, the Weather Network warns.

According to the network’s seasonal forecast released Monday, it’ll be chillier than normal throughout southern Alberta over the coming months, but with periods of reprieve mixed in.

“We expect a colder-than-normal winter, but the pattern will break down at times,” said meteorologist Doug Gillham. “We have above normal temperatures forecast for the B.C. coast and at times that milder Pacific air will spread into Alberta.”

The same goes for precipitation this winter, when much of the province’s southern portion can expect above-average snowfall, especially in the Rocky Mountains, he said.

“It’s overall good news for skiers,” Gillham noted.

Average levels of snowfall are in the longterm forecast for Calgary, but that could mean more flakes than usual after it’s all said and done when factoring in storms that already hit throughout the fall.

Gillham said Calgarians are used to drastic weather shifts, with November proving to be no exception.

“Those back-and-forth swings are typical so you’ll see that this winter to some extent, but you’ll be frozen more often than you’re thawed and I think the temperatures will tip more to the cold side of normal,” he said.

“It’s a little bit more of a harsh winter than the average without being, likely, one of your more memorable and more severe winters.”

The Weather Network’s winter forecast predicts it will be a long, cold winter across much of Canada, especially in the southern parts of the Prairies. The trend of a deep freeze will be felt through Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where meteorologists expect cold air to anchor down for the season.

But things are looking a little better in B.C., where temperatures will be slightly above normal and precipitation will be just below normal.

However, there may still be a two-week period where winter shows up out of the blue on the Pacific coast. Conditions will also likely be favourable in B.C.’s ski areas, despite the slightly higher temperatures.

From southern Ontario to southern Quebec, people can prepare for a winter that’s colder than usual and has much more precipitation than normal.

In Atlantic Canada, the Weather Network predicted it won’t be bitterly cold, but it will be a very stormy season.

Nunavut and the Northwest Territories will likely experience average winter conditions, which bucks a recent trend of warmer-than-usual winters in the Far North. In Yukon, a warmer winter is still expected.

Yukon and B.C. are the only parts of the country where spring could show up early in 2020, as the rest of the country should get ready for a harsh and prolonged season, according to the forecast.

Gillham said the seasonal prediction tries to answer questions of “how will the season be remembered?”

He compared the Weather Network’s forecast to pre-season hockey predictions, noting day-to-day weather is anyone’s guess beyond the seven-day forecast.

“It would be foolish to sit down and predict which games the Calgary Flames will win or lose through the course of a season, but often you have a good handle based on who’s coming back, maybe who you traded for,” Gillham said.

“Is this the year that you contend for the Stanley Cup, is this the year where you’re just fighting for the playoffs, or is this the year where you think you’re going to get a really good draft pick because you’re contending for the basement?”

—With files from the Canadian Press

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