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Winter roars across Prairies

A big temperature swing through the weekend. Click on the photo for a look at the conditions across the Prairies
A big temperature swing through the weekend. Click on the photo for a look at the conditions across the Prairies

Jill Colton, staff writer

January 29, 2011 — Winter is back in a big way for parts of the Prairies as substantial snowfall and colder temperatures hit the region.

More snow possible through Alberta
More snow possible through Alberta

The Prairies were considerably mild this past week but people have been reminded that there's still half of the winter season left.

Calgary saw a record high temperature of 13.2°C on Thursday as Chinook winds swept through, but the balmy weather quickly disappeared. “The ridge in the jet stream has broken down into a trough and this is bringing big changes in surface temperatures,” explains Brian Owsiak, a meteorologist here at The Weather Network.

Most of Alberta and Saskatchewan are in for a major cool down through the weekend, with temperatures dipping to or below seasonal.

“The mercury is falling even more over the weekend, plunging below seasonal. By Sunday, we're looking at almost a 30 degree swing in temperature.” Although it's quite the contrast, Owsiak says large temperature swings at this time of year are pretty common.

In addition to the freezing cold, some residents will need their snow shovels once again. Southern Alberta has already seen a good helping of snow including Calgary, where about 16 cm blanketed the ground Saturday morning. “With a weak disturbance and up-sloping, we're seeing heavier snow amounts across southern Alberta,” explains Michelle Cassar, another meteorologist here at The Weather Network.

Cassar says that snow began to ease Sunday morning for places like Calgary, but areas like Medicine Hat will continue to see snowfall until the evening hours. By the time the system completely tapers off, some communities will get nearly 25 cm.

Meanwhile, an Alberta clipper that began slicing through southern Saskatchewan and central Manitoba Thursday evening has since pushed eastward. The storm, however, certainly left its mark.

“Clippers tend to bring in a colder air mass,” notes Cassar. Temperatures are quickly dropping over the weekend, with Sunday highs forecast around -24°C. The clipper also blasted Manitoba with substantial snow totals. The city of Winnipeg saw 15 cm of snow by Friday afternoon and some 21 cm was dumped on Grand Rapids in the north.

The heavy precipitation reduced visibilities on the roads and highways significantly. Several highways in central and northern Saskatchewan were reported as dangerous and ice-covered after the rainfall Thursday night. Police officials are urging motorists to stay home and avoid any unnecessary travel while the conditions are poor.

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With files from Andrea Stockton

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