Much of Alberta under special weather statement with snow, strong winds in forecast

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for southern and central Alberta, warning snow and strong winds are expected on Friday

The statement from the national weather agency includes Calgary and Lethbridge and was issued just before 5 a.m. on Thursday.

Environment Canada says a Pacific low is forecast to move through central B.C. on Thursday and then across south-central Alberta on Friday.

“In south-central Alberta, a band of snow associated with this weather system will likely produce accumulations up to 10 cm by Friday afternoon, with higher amounts along the foothills and in the mountain parks,” Environment Canada said.

“There remains considerable uncertainty as to where the majority of the snow will fall as this low is still off the BC Pacific coast.”

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In southern Alberta, temperatures are expected initially to be well above zero on Friday, meaning it may rain before it snows.

“As the cold front passes through the region Friday afternoon, temperatures are expected to rapidly fall below zero with snow and strong northerly winds with gusts of 60 to 80 km/h,” Environment Canada said. “This abrupt change in weather may lead to hazardous travel conditions, and may occur during the Friday afternoon commute for some southern Alberta communities.”

Global Calgary weather anchor Jodi Hughes says Calgary’s temperatures are expected to remain below freezing from Friday night to at least Tuesday morning, meaning some of the accumulation could stick around for the weekend.

“Seasonal averages for this time of year include highs of around 13 C with lows of -1 C,” she said. “The daytime highs this weekend are expected to be between -5 C to -3 C with lows around -10 C.”

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In addition to the special weather statement, Environment Canada also issued a winter storm watch for the southwestern edge of the province including Banff National Park and Jasper National Park.

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“Significant snowfall associated with this system is expected to begin (Thursday) evening with accumulations possibly in excess of 25 cm for portions of Icefields Parkway by Friday afternoon,” the watch said.

“Rapidly falling snow with winds gusting near 70 km/h in exposed portions of the highway may lead to poor visibility and local blowing snow.”

Environment Canada is advising that people avoid travelling in the area if possible, saying rapidly accumulating snow could make it difficult in some areas.

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