Any signs Spring was just around the corner will be more than likely be buried underneath a significant layer of snow by the end of the weekend. For some areas, Saturday's dump will be the biggest of the season, with all of Southern Manitoba expecting at least some snowfall. That is from CMOS Accredited Weathercaster Chris Sumner.
"Most regions have had a couple of snowfall events this winter, but nothing much more than 10 cm in any one event. For a wide swath of Southern Manitoba, 10 cm will be the low end of this snowfall, with much high accumulations possible. This is very likely closer to the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border," explained Sumner. "This will be a high-impact event, and will definitely impact travel plans this weekend."
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Snowfall Warnings are in effect for the southwestern corner of the province, as far east as the Pilot Mound and Manitou areas. Heavy snow is expected in those regions tonight through Saturday, with the potential of up to 20 cm by Sunday morning. Meanwhile, special weather statements remain in effect for the Central Plains, Red River Valley, and much of Southeastern Manitoba ahead of the low-pressure system's arrival tonight. 10 to 20 cm of snow is expected in those areas.
"We have quite the interesting set-up with this system," noted Sumner. "A low moving in off the Pacific coast of Washington, as it crosses over the Rockies, is tapping into moisture-laden air from an atmospheric river causing severe weather in California this week. Think of atmospheric rivers as a conveyor belt of moisture-rich air. As that airmass is pulled northward, it cools, and when it cools, those parcels of air lose the ability to hold the moisture in them, and that's when you get potent Spring winter storms in our area."
The system will meander along the international border, bringing impacts to the Southern Prairies, Dakotas, and Minnesota today through Sunday.
"The timing of when the snowfall will begin is still coming together, as the track of the low solidifies further, but at this point, it looks like mid to late evening for southwestern parts of the province, and overnight for the Red River Valley and areas further east," he added. "The current forecast model runs are indicating the bulk of the snow will fall before Saturday night, but there will be ongoing snowfall into the evening hours, and possibly overnight to Sunday morning."
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Sumner stressed, this isn't only about the snow, with gusty winds expected to develop early Saturday, up to 60 km/h.
"The snowfall rates we're expecting, combined with that strength of wind gusts, blowing snow , and possibly near-zero visibility at times, will be in the cards," he said. "As the system pulls eastward, there will be a break in the really breezy conditions, more than likely by Saturday evening, but the winds will pick up again, shift northerly, and once again crank up blowing snow across the region, continuing visibility concerns into Sunday morning."
Sumner added, the storm's track is still developing, and if it shifts further south, snowfall totals and blowing snow potential will be somewhat lessened, but pointed out that most forecast model runs are now trending toward a more northerly path, which means higher impacts here.
At this point, the system is expected to have moved out of the area by Sunday night, with the first half of next week looking like we'll see seasonal, to slightly above-average, temperatures.