We’re on the cusp of a high-impact storm hitting the eastern Prairies. The system will bring significant snowfall, high winds, heavy flooding rains, and possibly even a few thunderstorms. Winter storm watches are already in effect for parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba ahead of the storm’s arrival on Friday. More on what to expect in the days to come, below.
THIS WEEKEND: ANOTHER POTENT 'SPRING' STORM WITH SIGNIFICANT SNOW THREAT
This storm won’t have exactly the same impacts as the big blizzard last week, but you’d be forgiven if you thought you'd seen this forecast before.
Some areas that are still recovering from one of the ‘worst’ blizzards in recent memory could be in for a do-over this weekend as forecasters expect a strengthening Colorado low to roll into the eastern Prairies in time for the weekend.
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The dynamics involved with this system are impressive. A few hundred kilometres will separate 30°C temperatures and 30+ cm of snowfall. Watch the animation below to see how the storm will progress across the region through this weekend.
Conditions will begin to deteriorate through the second half of Friday as the low-pressure system pushes into the northern Plains and precipitation starts to spill north across the border. The system will push across Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and northwestern Ontario through the day on Saturday, lingering into the first half of Sunday.
Cold air will keep precipitation types predominantly snow on the northern and western side of the system, while milder air wrapping into the storm from the south should keep communities on the eastern side of the storm rainy and, at times, on alert for some rumbles of thunder.
The low-pressure system looks to track a little farther west than last week’s blizzard, which should keep most of the snow west of Winnipeg.
A hefty swath of 30-50 cm of snow could fall locally, with some isolated areas forecast to see near 70 cm. The swath of snow will be much narrower than we saw with last week’s storm, with the greatest impacts confined to southeastern Saskatchewan, southwestern Manitoba, and portions of the Manitoba Lakes.
This incoming storm will be a major wind producer. Multi-day blizzard conditions with last week's storm left roads and schools closed for days.
Gusts of 70-90 km/h will lead to severely reduced visibility and blizzard conditions for some spots, making for dangerous travel once again especially in areas that receive the brunt of the snow.
Strong winds along the Saskatchewan and Manitoba border will create blizzard-like conditions at times on Saturday and Sunday, and travel along the Trans-Canada Highway between Brandon and Regina will not be recommended.
Milder air on the eastern side of the system will bring a period of heavy, drenching rain to portions of southeastern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario, including Winnipeg and Thunder Bay.
Forecasters are watching the potential for the heavy rain to lead to flooding in some areas. This was less of a threat with last week’s storm as below-freezing temperatures kept the onslaught of runoff to manageable levels.
With 30-60 mm of rain and thunderstorms forecast to target the Red River Basin, and precipitation in the region 150 -200 percent of normal over the last 30 days, concerns are rising for areas along the Red River to experience minor to moderate flooding from the U.S. into southern Manitoba.
Temperatures following the system are also forecast to be above the freezing mark for the majority of next week.
Rain may change over to a period of snow on Sunday as cold air wraps behind the departing storm. This brief burst of snow could bring minor accumulations to the Winnipeg metro.
Looking ahead, calmer conditions should prevail heading into next week. Temperatures will remain significantly below seasonal next week, with the potential for a warming trend as we head toward the end of the month.
Check back frequently for the latest details on this major storm headed for the eastern Prairies.