Winter storm warnings span the Prairies, NW Ontario, risk of 40 cm of snow
Snowfall and winter storm warnings have expanded across parts of the Prairies and northwestern Ontario, as the first major storm of the season is set to bring as much as 20-40 cm of snowfall and widespread howling winds, which will make for dangerous travel amid whiteouts and blizzard-like conditions.
Boosted by the potent moisture of two separate systems, the winter storm that began slamming the eastern Prairies and northwestern Ontario Wednesday will be at full force Thursday, with some areas in line to reach and even exceed 40 cm by Friday. Add in some potent winds, and Thursday morning commuters will be dealing with very difficult travel, including white-out conditions. For a closer look, see below.
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THURSDAY INTO FRIDAY: HEAVIEST SNOW SHIFTS EAST, WINDS INTENSIFY
There's nothing ambiguous about this blast of winter snow that beset the eastern Prairies late Wednesday, with effects expected to continue into Thursday as the worst of it moves east.
Saskatchewan saw the first flakes Wednesday, and the snow was poised to intensify overnight in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario, and it is there where we expect the heaviest amounts, continuing Thursday through to early Friday.
Manitoba and much of Ontario's northwest look set to pick up 20-40 cm from this potent system, with parts of the northwest likely to even exceed that amount. But areas along and a little inland of Lake Superior, including Thunder Bay, will receive lesser amounts, and in fact will receive a great deal of rain from this system through Friday, limiting snowfall accumulations where there are any.
"Consider postponing non-essential travel until conditions improve. Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions," warns Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) in the winter storm warning. "If you must travel, keep others informed of your schedule and destination and carry an emergency kit and mobile phone."
Making the snow worse will be winds, which began ramping up Wednesday afternoon, and will peak Thursday and Friday.
Far-reaching gusts of 50-90 km/h are expected during the latter two days for southern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario. Saskatchewan will see gusts of 40-70 km/h, but extreme southeastern areas could see up to 80 km/h.
Whiteout conditions will be likely, creating hazardous blizzard-like conditions, especially Thursday, so motorists are urged to avoid unnecessary travel. Significant impacts to travel are expected along parts of the Trans-Canada, Yellowhead and local highways.
Temperatures will be quite chilly through the duration of the system, with single-digit highs Wednesday and Thursday for most areas and some locales not even making it above the freezing mark.
Conditions will begin to improve Thursday in Saskatchewan, and Friday morning and afternoon for Manitoba and northwestern Ontario, respectively.
LOOK AHEAD: ANOTHER SHOT OF HEFTY SNOW POSSIBLE
Beyond, there is the potential for another clipper Friday night into Saturday, with a swath of significant snow possible for parts of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan.
A wide range in temperatures develops across the region this weekend and early next week with much milder temperatures spreading into western areas. Temperatures could possibly hit the lower teens for southern Alberta by early next week, while a shot of modified Arctic air plunges south into eastern areas with highs remaining well below the freezing mark.
Be sure to check back for the latest updates on this snowy system for the Prairies.