The Calm After the Storm

After a weekend laced with active weather all over the Prairies, we will go into a much more subdued pattern for this week. But unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the snow is going anywhere fast.

Cold temperatures are expected on Monday morning in Western Manitoba

Cold temperatures are expected on Monday morning in Western Manitoba

The weather to start the week looks cool to cold, but fairly uneventful. The main story may in fact be the low temperatures, with very cold values expected. On Sunday morning Coronation, Alberta plunged down to -29C! In Southern Manitoba our lows don’t look to be quite that extreme, but if skies clear out as expected some -20C readings may appear in Western Manitoba this morning. In the Red River Valley our daytime temperatures won’t moderate much from this morning’s lows, with temperatures basically flat-lining throughout the day in the high minus single digits or low minus double digits. It looks like we’ll get down into the low minus teens on Tuesday morning, with widespread -20s not looking too likely at this point. By Tuesday afternoon it looks like we’ll climb up to the mid minus single digits, which should be fairly pleasant given the lack of wind. On Wednesday models suggest that we could get up to the freezing mark, though they may not have a great handle on the new snow cover, so I’d assume our temperatures will remain slightly below zero for now.

No significant weather is in store for the late week period, just more typical mid-November conditions. Long-range models hint at warmer than normal weather returning to Manitoba later this month, but those predictions should be taken with caution for now as our new snow cover may not be properly accounted for yet.

Major Winter Storm Ushers in Winter

A major Colorado low will bring an end to fall and transform our dry, dusty landscape into a winter wonderland this weekend. This storm will have major impacts on Southern Manitoba with heavy snow producing rapid accumulations and moderate strength winds producing low visibilities and drifting snow.

Satellite Image from 9PM Yesterday

Satellite image from 9PM last night showing location of the main low (marked by the large L) and the area of snow already developed out ahead of it.

Snow will push into southwestern Manitoba this evening as a band of snow that has produced 10-20cm of snow in Southern Saskatchewan spreads eastwards into Manitoba. This snow will intensify over the SW portion of the province overnight and slowly spread eastwards. By tomorrow morning, snow should have pushed across all of southern Manitoba, with light snow falling over the RRV and Whiteshell.

On Saturday, the main low centre associated with this system will push into Minnesota, and things really start to fire up. A surge of moisture will wrap around the north side of this system back into Southern Manitoba resulting in heavy snowfall over the Red River Valley and Whiteshell.

Total QPF

Total QPF amounts (liquid equivalent precipitation) by Sunday morning.

The GEM-GLB model is beginning to have a fairly decent handle on things, however it’s track is likely a little too far south. Amounts seem fairly believable, though, which means widespread accumulations of 15-20cm of snow for all areas south of the Trans-Canada Highway. An axis of heavier snow will exist, likely from near the Pilot Mound region extending NE through (or just south of) Winnipeg and towards Bisset, where amounts will likely end up closer to 20-25cm.

There’s some indications that convective banded precipitation may develop as well; should this happen, there would likely be areas in the Red River Valley (too hard to say exactly where at this time) that could potentially see 30cm+ of snow (that’s a foot if you prefer those imperial measurements).

Winds will remain moderate, only around 30km/h with gusts to 50km/h, however with the intensity of the snowfall, there will likely be periods of near-zero visibility. It’s also very likely that roads will quickly become snow- and ice-covered, with some drifts developing over highways in open areas. Travel will be extremely treacherous on Saturday, and highway conditions will likely not improve until crews have been able to get out and start clearing things on Sunday.

If you have travel plans on Manitoba highways for this weekend, it is important to note that 10-20cm of snow will fall across much of Southern Saskatchewan today. Through yesterday and by the end of today, up to 2 feet of snow will have fallen through central and eastern Montana, and conditions will be equally poor in North Dakota today and tomorrow. This storm will be arriving a little later in NW Ontario, with the precipitation (likely with an area of freezing rain) arriving Saturday morning instead of Friday evening. More or less, unless you’re driving north, you’ll likely be hitting challenging road conditions no matter where you’re headed this weekend. If you do need to travel in a winter storm, make sure you carry a winter survival kit in your vehicle.

Small Disturbance Today; Significant Colorado Low This Weekend

There will be a very slight chance of showers today as a low pushes across the Interlake region, however the bigger news will be this weekend, when a powerful Colorado Low ushers in winter over Southern Manitoba.

The rough track of the upcoming Colorado Low

A satellite image showing the current position and estimated track of the Colorado Low that will impact Southern Manitoba this weekend.

A low pressure system track through the Interlake today will bring 10-15cm of snow through Central Manitoba, north of the track of the low. Through southern Manitoba, there will just be a slight chance of a shower through the afternoon and evening as most areas see a mainly cloudy day with a high near 3 or 4°C. There’s a slight chance to see some sun across many areas this morning, however the likelihood of fog development in any clear areas may mask the chance for sunshine.

Thursday will bring some sunshine and a windy morning, with winds gusting out of the N/NE to 30 or 40km/h behind the system, but should lighten into the afternoon. Temperatures will be cooler than late, with highs only around -1 or 0°C.

By Friday, we’ll begin to feel the impact of the Colorado Low. Winds will begin to pick up out of the northeast as snow begins pushing into SW Manitoba. Snow will make it’s way into the Red River Valley overnight, with steadier snow developing Saturday morning. Disagreement still exists amongst the model runs as to where the heaviest snowfall will be, however the NAEFS (North American Ensemble Forecast System) has been startling consistent over the past few days with painting the heaviest snowfall right over Winnipeg.

Probability of > 10cm of Snowfall

Probability of ≥ 10cm of snowfall from the NAEFS, valid from 12Z November 10th to 00Z November 11th (a 12hr. accumulation).

The NAEFS is showing significant confidence in areas in Southwest Manitoba (Melita, Pilot Mound, Virden and Brandon) regions seeing more than 10cm of snow, with a decent likelihood of people west of the Red River seeing ≥ 10cm as well. North of the Trans-Canada highway, it looks like from Portage to Winnipeg has a sizeable chance of seeing greater accumulations, as well as into the Southern Interlake.

Snow will taper off on Sunday, however significant accumulations will likely have developed in it’s wake. Current indications are that the SE corner of the Red River Valley will see the least snow, and accumulations will increase as you head west and north. In addition to the snow, gusty winds to 50 or 60km/h will push into the Red River Valley as well, producing widespread reductions in visibility due to falling and blowing snow. System-total precipitation looks to be 15-25mm, which when taking into account the expected SLR (snow-to-liquid ratio) of around 10:1, would result in a total of 15-25cm of snow. General estimates for accumulated snowfall by the end of the weekend for a few select sites are:

  • Winnipeg: 15-20cm
  • Steinbach: 10-20cm
  • Morden/Winkler: 15-25cm
  • Portage la Prairie: 15-25cm
  • Brandon: 10-20cm
  • Pilot Mound: 15-25cm
  • Sprague: 5-15cm
  • Victoria Beach: 10-20cm
  • Gimli: 10-15cm

We’ll have more updates on the track of this system as the week progresses. Monitor EC’s Weather Office site for forecasts and any watches or special weather statements as the week progresses. Although the exact timing and intensity of this system may be difficult to pin down, it’s a safe bet to say that driving conditions will likely be extremely poor with ice-covered roads and low visibilities in blowing snow. Conditions in North Dakota will also be quite poor as well this weekend. If you have plans to travel by car/truck this weekend, be sure that you’re prepared for the hazardous weather that will be present. Always carry a winter survival kit in your vehicle if you must travel during winter storms.

Winter Looms

The weather for most of this week will be fairly calm and uneventful, but current forecasts show the potential for a major winter storm next weekend.

The ECMWF model is predicting that a major winter storm will impact Southern Manitoba next weekend

The ECMWF model is predicting that a major winter storm will impact Southern Manitoba next weekend

Monday’s weather will be fairly seasonal, with high temperatures just above zero. There may be some light rain during the afternoon and evening hours as a trough of low pressure swings through, though nothing particularly significant. Tuesday will see little change from Monday, with temperatures once again in the low single digits. Perhaps the biggest difference between these two days will be the wind direction, with the wind being north-westerly on Tuesday, as opposed to southerly on Monday. Wednesday will once again be a seasonal day, with temperatures around or slightly above zero.

The main attention this week will be focused on the potential for a major weather system next weekend. Weather models are currently showing a significant Colorado Low system impacting Southern Manitoba next weekend, with the potential for heavy snow and strong winds. At this point it is impossible to predict exactly how this system will affect us, other than to say it could cause significant disruptions. Just as it is impossible to know the exact impacts of this storm this far in the future, it is also not possible to know for sure if this storm will hit us at all. Based on the latest guidance, there does appear to be a reasonable chance of it impacting Southern Manitoba in some way, but we won’t be sure for a few more days. In the meantime, we’ve got some interesting weather to talk about!