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Alberta Clipper set to bring heavy snow to Ontario

Alberta Clipper set to impact Ontario Thursday night

Brad Rousseau

Thursday, January 8, 2015, 12:26 PM - Winter has certainly made its return to the country and the cold will stay with us through to next week. In the near future, snow squalls continue to affect the Snow Belt regions with an Alberta Clipper forecast to push through Ontario Thursday afternoon to Friday morning.

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The snow squalls will continue for Thursday but will shift back northward. Thus areas to be affected will be Huron-Perth, Grey-Bruce, Cottage Country, and the Superior East regions.

Squalls will also be on going off Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, but will mainly affect the U.S. through the morning. As the Alberta Clipper approaches the province, the winds will become more southerly. This will push the Lake Ontario Squall north into Prince Edward County as well as into the Belleville to Kingston and Brockville areas. Impacts from this squall could also be felt in parts of the Greater Toronto Area and along the 401 corridor east of the GTA during the late afternoon and evening. Accumulations from this squall from Cobourg along the 401 to Kingston could be near 5-10cm by Thursday evening. The Lake Erie squall will push north into the southern Niagara Region through the mid-afternoon. Snow amounts from this squall are not likely to be very significant but a quick 1-3cm is possible. The evening commute in parts of the GTA could be impacted by this initial snow squall. 

Snow from the clipper itself will push into southwestern Ontario, through the Huron-Perth and Grey-Bruce regions, and into central Ontario during the mid to late afternoon. The clipper snow will push into the GTA, Niagara, and eastern Ontario through the evening hours. The main issue with this system will be the potential for some strong banding associated with it as well as the lake enhancement that will take place. This will lead to highly varying snowfall amounts across the province. Figure 1 below shows one forecast models solution of the general snowfall across the region during the mid-evening. I’ve highlighted where some of the heavier bands look to setup and progress again according to this model. The position and intensity of these bands will not be known for certain until they develop which will cause some variable snowfall amounts.

The second image in figure does show the snow squalls setting up off Lake Huron and Georgian Bay during the late evening and overnight.

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The next image below figure 2 shows our current forecast amounts for the system (not the initial snow squalls) Thursday afternoon through to Friday morning. With the banding and lake enhancement it is quite possible that the 5-10cm area could have some areas over achieve on amounts to the east of the GTA with isolated areas near 10-15cm possible. At this point it appears as though the lake enhancement will be strongest off Lake Erie and Lake Ontario with strong southwesterly winds pushing in with this system. As the system snow pushes out, snow squalls could linger into Friday morning in parts of Niagara as well as from Kingston through Brockville. Prince Edward County, Kingston, and Brockville appears to at risk for amounts near 10-20 cm. Niagara will see general amounts near 10-15cm with the Fort Erie are susceptible to 15-25cm thanks to the lake enhancement and Friday morning snow squall.

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Winds with the clipper will pick up through the afternoon on Thursday out of the southwest near 25-35 km/h gusting near 55-65 km/h. For the lake shores and for Niagara winds will be stronger sustained near 50-60 km/h gusting near 70-80 km/h. Gusty southwest winds continue Thursday night with shoreline areas and Niagara seeing sustained winds of 40-60 km/h gusting near 70-90 km/h. The winds will taper off somewhat during Friday but become more westerly with gusts near 45-55 km/h. Lake Huron shores and Niagara will continue with winds near 30-50 km/h gusting near 65-75 km/h. 

These winds will bring widespread blowing and drifting snow with near zero visibilities at times. Blizzard conditions are possible through Niagara and possibly through western parts of Grey-Bruce and Huron-Perth Thursday night through Friday morning when winds are forecast to peak in intensity. Remember that blizzard conditions according to Environment Canada are when winds of 40 km/h or more cause widespread reduction in visibility to 400 meters or less, due to blowing snow, or a combination of blowing and falling snow, for at least 4 hours. 

With the frigid westerly winds off Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, snow squalls will develop once again Friday through to Saturday morning for the Snow Belt regions east of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. Additional road closures are possible once again Friday mainly for Hwy 21.

WATCH BELOW: The science behind wind chill.

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