Bad weather is brewing: Alberta’s deep freeze is about to end, expect a powerful weekend winter storm


A mass of extremely cold arctic air that has chilled Alberta for days will soon emerge, but the dangerously cold system will not go away quietly.

The province will thaw next week, but not before a powerful winter storm hits Alberta just in time to put a damper on holiday travel plans.

Environment Canada says the icy system that has gripped Alberta since Sunday will be driven out by another low pressure system that will bring high winds, heavy snowfall and freezing rain to the province.

« I have good news and bad news, » Environment Canada meteorologist Sara Hoffman said in an interview Thursday.

« It’s going to be a bit warmer, but the bad news is there will be a bit of wintry weather to come with that. »

Hoffman said the storm had just appeared on weather bureau radar systems and was not yet reflected in long-range forecasts.

But bad weather is definitely brewing.

“We want people to know that help will come, but there will be snow, especially in the north of the province,” Hoffman said.

« For something this cold and entrenched to move east, it really takes a strong Pacific disturbance to kind of push it. »

The winter storm is expected to last about 12 hours in Alberta from Saturday evening through Sunday morning, Hoffman said.

The low pressure system will form over the Edmonton area before moving southeast and touching Saskatchewan on Sunday.

Northern regions of Alberta, including Edmonton, can expect five to ten centimeters of snow. Some areas, particularly the Grande Prairie region, will be affected by up to 15 centimeters, Hoffman said.

The sharp rise in temperatures will also bring Chinook winds, as well as periods of freezing rain to communities in southern Alberta.

Crouch down

Driving conditions will be « particularly poor » on the province’s highways, Hoffman said. She encouraged drivers traveling in Alberta and Saskatchewan to adjust their vacation travel plans to avoid the worst.

« Saturday night through Sunday morning we’ll face the bulk of that weather in Alberta, » she said. « Saskatchewan is really starting to take care of it on Sunday.

« If you’re just sitting at home and going to squat and not really going out anywhere, you won’t be impacted by this system too much. But if you’re on the highways, it will be impacting you. »

The storm will be a cold comfort to shivering Albertans.

The frost, the coldest so far this winter season, has strained the power grid, shattered daily temperature records and created havoc for travellers.

As of Thursday morning, extreme cold warnings were still in place across all regions of Alberta.

Environment Canada says the cold weather will bring wind chill values ​​between -40 and -55.

In Edmonton, a high of -26 C is expected Thursday afternoon, dipping to -29 overnight. In Calgary, the daytime temperature is expected to hover around -24 with a low of -30 overnight.

Furnaces roared and car batteries sputtered against the cold. Streets like polished glass have created havoc for travelers on the city’s roads. Sleet and poor visibility plagued provincial highways, weighing on demand for roadside services.

The Alberta Motor Association is asking for patience as demand for its crews has increased in recent days. Members can expect to wait up to 84 hours for a tow or up to 61 hours for a battery charge.

Air travelers are also feeling the pressure. Hundreds of flights have been grounded since Sunday due to bad weather in Alberta and British Columbia

Airports in Edmonton and Calgary warned Thursday of continued delays for travelers.

Alberta’s power system operator recorded unprecedented new peak demand on Monday. The operator issued a temporary network alert on Tuesday and Wednesday evening, asking customers to reduce usage or face the possibility of brownouts.

On Thursday morning, network operation was back to normal but customers are encouraged to reduce their consumption until the cold snap subsides.

Several daily temperature records have been broken since the cold set in. According to a bulletin published by Environment Canada, records were broken this week in more than 30 Alberta communities stretching from the badlands to the Rockies.



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