It's been an interesting past 48 hours here in Wood Buffalo, with nasty weather and deplorable driving conditions. Things got so bad that Highway 63, along with a few other northern roads, were closed to traffic. I recall reading that at one point, police had responded to as many as 60 vehicle mishaps. Considering how many potential hospitalizations that could have potentially been, the decision to close 63 was a smart one and, as McMurray Musings rightly notes, we can't very well bitch about it.
While Highway 881 provides a secondary link, it isn't designed to carry great volumes of traffic. I'm not even sure it was fully paved when I first drove on it about 10 years ago. At any rate, 881, was also shut down too following a couple of accidents not too far from where I used to live when I first moved out here. I even had my own close call on 881 with an 18-wheeler that first winter.
63 has since been re-opened, and while I never really had a feeling of being "cut off", it was still a good reminder of just how much Fort McMurray relies on this highway. Even north of the city wasn't spared the hazardous weather as I've shoveled an ungodly amount of snow the past couple days, both at work and at home, and on the ride home from site tonight our bus passed a truck in the ditch at the bottom of Super Test Hill. Apparently, it went into the ditch sometime yesterday but it was still being shoveled out.
Anyhow, while things are slowly returning to normal, I'm sure there were a few people inconvenienced by not being able to get to Edmonton (my foreman was on his way to sunnier climes himself), the past 48 hours could have been much worse. Highway 63 can be a difficult drive in far more optimal situations than what we've experienced here so it comes as a relief to read the local news and not hear of outcomes that could have been much, much worse.