Heavy snow blasts Alberta while freezing air rests over the prairies
A double whammy of brutal winter weather is in store for the prairies in the coming days as a stark pattern reversal occurs across the region.
Alberta will feel the wrath of winter first as multiple rounds of heavy snow traverse the southern foothills. Significant snowfall that will continue through Tuesday will make travel near impossible in parts of the province. In some areas 30-40 cm of snow can be seen, locally up to 50 cm.
From behind the snow comes a gust of arctic air, promising the region’s coldest temperatures since December. Wind chill readings could dip into dangerous territory in the coming week.
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Winter returns with significant potential for snow
A strong cold front targeting eastern British Columbia and western Alberta will bring heavy snow to the regions beginning Monday and continuing through Tuesday.
The approaching depression will have plenty of cold air and Pacific moisture to work with, making it a powerful storm when it hits the Rocky Mountains earlier in the week.
Alberta’s first round of snow arrives Sunday night, with squalls hitting cities like Hinton, Red Deer, Calgary and Medicine Hat.
Snow will then shift southwest on Monday, but the main event will advance by mid-afternoon. In the evening and into the night there will be extensive snowfall.
Heavier snowfall rates will continue through Tuesday morning and will lighten in the afternoon and evening. Snow will be light and fluffy due to arctic air so totals could be higher than expected.
Total snowfall will be significant in the western half of Alberta, ranging from south of Grande Prairie to the southern border and as far east as Medicine Hat. The amounts in this swath range from 10 to 40 cm, with most of it along the foothills where accumulations can reach up to 50 cm locally.
Calgary, Alta. will be right in the middle, with projections of 15-30 cm for the big city.
As a result, travel in southern parts of Alberta will be severely impacted as this incursion of arctic air invades the region.
Arctic air causes temperatures to drop, the wind shower returns
Across the prairie, we have experienced a series of unusually mild temperatures for more than a month. This stretch of consistently transseasonal conditions will quickly come to an end as this thrust of arctic air plummets south.
The coldest air associated with the trough will flow over the region on Tuesday and remain there for several days before easing somewhat.
The deep cold sweeping into Alberta will keep temperatures in Calgary and Edmonton firmly in the double digits from Monday night through Saturday morning.
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Regina and Saskatoon will see the coldest air Monday night and Tuesday. Every city will grapple with several days of high temperatures in the -20s, with Saskatoon expected to hit -23C on Wednesday.
Winnipeg faces daily highs on Wednesday and Thursday, rising only to around -22C, with overnight lows expected to hit -27C to -28C several times throughout the week.
While these certainly aren’t the coldest temperatures we’ve seen, it will feel particularly harsh given how mild the prairies have been in 2023.
Winds certainly won’t help either. Wind chill levels will drop into the -30s and approach -40 for the duration of the coldest air next week, increasing the risk of frostbite and hypothermia. Exposed skin can develop frostbite in as little as 10 minutes, with wind chill levels reaching -40.
This cold air does not go away so quickly. Subseasonal temperatures will continue through much of the prairie through the end of the month.
Stay tuned to The Weather Network for the latest weather conditions on the prairie.