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Monster storm slams Alberta, widespread snowfall warnings

Digital writers

Thursday, February 8, 2018, 9:44 AM - A favourable set up with abundant Pacific moisture flooding over the Rockies is bringing widespread snowfall to southern Alberta, the foothills and the mountains through Friday morning. Some places could see 15-30+ cm of snow with the threat for near whiteout conditions as bands of heavy snow develop.

Keep on top of active weather by visiting the ALERTS page.

Weather Highlights

  • Moisture-laden system pushing in from the Pacific, bringing heavy snow across central, western and southern Alberta
  • Significant amounts of snow between 25-35 cm expected through Friday. Local amounts of 50 cm could fall over higher terrain along the foothills.
  • Snowfall gradually tapers in central Alberta Thursday afternoon, and through the evening and overnight in southern regions. 

"Starting overnight Wednesday we saw a lot of widespread snowfall accumulations within just short distances across Alberta and that's going to continue throughout the day on Thursday," says Weather Network meteorologist Erin Wenckstern. "We have winds that are converging and they're producing locally heavier bands of snow down towards southern Alberta."

Winter storm and snowfall warnings are in effect for a large swath of the province, from Hinton through Calgary and down towards Cypress Hills. Calgary police are warning residents to just "stay home if you can." 

WATCH BELOW: Snowfall timing

"An area of heavy snow currently from Grande Cache to Medicine Hat, will slump southward today bringing heavy snowfall to all of southern Alberta," says Environment Canada in the warning issued early Thursday morning. 

Snowfall will begin to taper Thursday afternoon in central Alberta, gradually easing through southern Alberta by the evening and overnight hours. 

"Consider postponing non-essential travel until conditions improve," says EC. "Rapidly accumulating snow could make travel difficult over some locations. Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions."

Pacific moisture flowing over the Rockies and along the foothills is clashing with the Arctic air already entrenched over Alberta. The two converging and drastically different airmasses are helping to fuel the development of snow, with heavier bands, from the northwest down through the southeast.

Snow Accumulation

The heaviest swath of 20-40+ cm will be in the Rockies, southern foothills and the elbow. Between 15-30 cm is expected from Calgary and Red Deer and Medicine Hat (generally heavier south of the city), while Edmonton is more of a miss, with less than 5 cm of accumulation. However, with the convective nature of this system, widespread variations in snowfall accumulations will be seen over short distances.

Dangerous travel is expected west of the QE2 corridor from Red Deer southward through Calgary with the risk for near zero visibility and whiteout conditions. 

"Highway 3 will also be highly impacted so be very careful on the roads," warns Wenckstern. 

Eyes on another potential big storm next week

"There will be no significant systems to impact Alberta through the weekend as Arctic air eases before a return to below seasonal conditions next week," says Weather Network meteorologist Dr. Doug Gillham. "There's the potential for a significant system for Alberta Tuesday through Wednesday of next week, including the city of Calgary once again and potentially Edmonton as well."

WATCH BELOW: What conditions were like at the height of last Saturday's storm

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