Travel not recommended due to heavy snowfall in southern Alberta

Travel not recommended due to heavy snowfall in southern Alberta

Travel not recommended due to heavy snowfall in southern Alberta

Snowfall and winter storm warnings are lining southern Alberta, and drivers are being urged to avoid non-essential travel until Tuesday morning.

Heavy snowfall increased during Monday night hours, with over 20 inches reported in the Calgary area before sunrise on Tuesday. This has made travel treacherous throughout the region.

“Be prepared to adapt your driving to changing road conditions,” says Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) in the snowfall warning. “Visibility can be suddenly restricted at times during heavy snowfall. Surfaces such as highways, streets, sidewalks and parking lots can become difficult to drive on due to snow accumulation.”

When traveling, drivers are also encouraged to plan ahead and keep others informed of their travel plans and to carry an emergency kit and mobile phone with them at all times.

A strong Arctic front sweeping across eastern British Columbia and western Alberta will continue bringing snow to the regions through Tuesday. The low-pressure system has plenty of cold air and Pacific humidity to work with, contributing to higher snowfall totals.

Heavier snowfall rates will continue into Tuesday morning and will lighten in the afternoon and evening. The snow will be light and fluffy due to the arctic air so totals could end up being higher than expected.

Baron - rising snow - February 21

Baron – rising snow – February 21

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 total amount in this swath will be between 10 and 40 cm, with most of it along the foothills where accumulations can reach up to 50 cm locally.

The cities of Calgary, Hinton and Lethbridge will be right in the middle, with projections of 20-30cm for these areas. Much has already fallen, but another 5-15 cm is expected in this region by Tuesday.

Baron - ABSnowZoom - Feb21

Baron – ABSnowZoom – Feb21

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.

Prairie temperature differences to normal February 19, 2023 PM update

Prairie temperature differences to normal February 19, 2023 PM update

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 invading Alberta will keep temperatures firmly in the double digits in Calgary and Edmonton and will continue into Saturday morning.

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Regina and Saskatoon will see the coldest air on Tuesday. Every city will grapple with several days of high temperatures in the -20s, with Saskatoon expected to hit -23C on Wednesday.

Winnipeg will face Wednesday and Thursday, with daily highs only rising to around -22C and overnight lows expected to hit -30C several times throughout the week.

AB Windchill February 20, 2023

AB Windchill February 20, 2023

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.

Frostbite graphic

Frostbite graphic

Thumbnail courtesy of Braydon Morisseau/Twitter.

Stay tuned to The Weather Network for the latest weather conditions on the prairie.


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