A pedestrian crosses College Drive during the blizzard Wednesday in Saskatoon.

A massive winter storm pummelled much of B.C. and the Prairies Wednesday, causing school closures, flight cancellations and havoc on the roads.

The blizzard started early Tuesday morning in British Columbia before sweeping east across northern and central Alberta and Saskatchewan, causing near-zero visibility for motorists.

The storm is being blamed for at least two deaths in Saskatchewan. A woman and a teenage boy died of exposure after leaving their stuck vehicle Tuesday night near a First Nation reserve north of Lloydminster.

CBC meteorologist Claire Martin said the system is moving east and expected to buffet Manitoba and northwestern Ontario with winds and snow, while driving temperatures in much of the Prairies below –30 C.

"It's nasty," Martin told CBC.ca on Wednesday evening. "This is Mother Nature reaping revenge on all of us who asked, 'Where did the winter go?'"

B.C. motorists stuck as temperatures drop to –41
Dozens of motorists were stranded in their cars in northeastern B.C. on a road near the Alaska Highway on Tuesday night as temperatures dipped to –41 C.

Search and rescue crews used a fleet of snowmobiles to reach 28 drivers on Braden Road between Dawson Creek and Fort St. John and brought them out to safety.

RCMP Const. Darren Forsythe said the crews reported that all 28 people were in good condition.

"Everyone they were coming across were warm and happy. They followed the proper safety precautions, stayed in their vehicles and things were running. The only complaint they came across was that some people were out of cigarettes by the time they got rescued."

He said a search helicopter has spotted other stranded vehicles across the Peace River region, and efforts are being made to get them out.

A Vancouver woman suffered a fractured skull, broken arms and a broken leg when she was battered by a falling tree in Stanley Park, which was blown over by winds of more than 100 kilometres per hour.

A large avalanche closed the Trans-Canada Highway between Revelstoke and Golden in eastern B.C. for some time earlier Wednesday. The highway has since been reopened.

The storm also forced delays and cancellations at Edmonton International Airport, while officials warned motorists in north and central Alberta to stay off the roads.

In Saskatoon, temperatures were below –19 C for close to 10 hours with wind speeds reaching 80 km/h.

"If we had to hand out an award for the worst weather today, it would go to Saskatoon," Martin said.

The storm was expected to hit northwestern Manitoba late Wednesday before continuing east.