April 13, 2012 — Temperatures plunged and rain switched over to snow quicker than expected in parts of Alberta Thursday, leaving some parts of the province looking like a winter wonderland.
It was a tough evening commute on Thursday for anyone living in and around the city of Calgary.
Precipitation that began falling as rain switched over to snow in the late afternoon hours, making a mess of roadways.
"Temperatures dropped faster than expected in Calgary, and as a result the change over to snow happened sooner than expected," says Gina Ressler, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.
Even seasoned meteorologists were caught off guard by the sudden snow.
So -- what happened?
According to Ressler, the actual precipitation forecast of 30 mm panned out, although not exactly as expected. While Calgary West saw 25 cm of precipitation accumulate, only 10 mm of that was rain.
"Calgary is one of the trickiest place in Canada to forecast weather," she says. "That's because it's so close to the mountains. Even the slightest shift in wind direction or storm system can have a drastic effect on the weather outcome."
Calgary International Airport picked up 18 cm of snow with this storm, while higher elevations of the city saw 25 cm.
Even heavier amounts fell in places like Cochrane and Springbank Thursday.
Around 30 cm of snow has been reported in these regions. Springbank actually saw 9 cm of snow fall in only an hour's time.
Temperatures are set to rebound on Friday, with a rain/snow mix expected in southern Alberta.
"For areas further north however, the precipitation will stay as snow with up to 15 cm possible through Saturday," says Dillon.
In the eastern Prairies, a drenching of rain is forecast through Saturday.
For a closer look at weather watches and warnings, check the Alerts section of our website.