A significant storm system is currently developing in Montana this morning that will push it’s way eastwards across the Northern Plains of the United States and into Northwestern Ontario by Thursday morning.
Snow will push into Saskatchewan today and a snow band will develop aligned somewhere between Shaunovan and Kamsack, as shown in the above model image. There is a slight chance that some of these sites will see warning-level amounts of snow, however it currently looks like the possibility of that is borderline. This band of snow will then consolidate and push into Central Manitoba, while a second impulse brings an area of lift into Southeastern Saskatchewan and Southern Manitoba.
This second band of snow will move eastwards through Southern Manitoba, giving most areas somewhere between 5-10cm of snow. Brisk northerly winds will push into the Red River Valley on the backside of the low as it moves into Northwestern Ontario, and with fresh snow, significant blowing snow will exist in any open areas inside the valley. Based on this projection, the snow would begin in Winnipeg late Thursday morning and last until sometime Friday morning, with the heaviest snow and worst conditions coming by late Thursday afternoon. Significant blowing snow would most likely occur during the evening and overnight period, which will be important to take into account for anybody planning to travel on Thursday evening/night, especially through the southern Red River Valley.
At least, that is how this system should evolve. The jury is still out on what will actually happen. The last 5 runs of the GEM-REG model have all produced drastically different results. The GFS and NAM offer little consensus on where the heaviest snow will be, the UKMET shows similarities to the 00Z GEM-REG run (from which I’ve gotten these images), and ensemble models show little confidence in the track and evolution of this system. Why is this? One look at the Water Vapour imagery shows the problem:
The two +’s in this image are the two main vorticity centers for this incoming system, and the yellow arrows depict their rough paths given the streams they are each in, respectively. This system is a somewhat unique scenario, wherein the two “streams” of air are close together, and are moving in sync. Typically, the reason this is a problem is because the models can have a hard time dealing with the energy distribution between the two streams. We have seen many times in the past where model solutions flip flop back and forth and back and forth, even when the event is close (less than 36 hours away) where the model error could be attributed to the complex dynamics that occur when this situation occurs.
So if we don’t actually know what’s going to happen, what’s going to happen? Odds are that the RRV will get snow on Thursday. I’ll go on record saying we’ll get at least 3-4 cm. In a worst case scenario, a line from Pilot Mound to Winnipeg could get as much as 10-15 cm, however I think that’s quite unlikely. If we get fresh snow in the RRV, there will be blowing snow Thursday night as the winds pick up to 50G70 km/h out of the north. And sadly, our wonderful warm spell is going to come to an end this week, with temperatures plummeting to -20°C by Friday morning.
I’ll keep the comments of this post updated as the system develops and try to narrow down the impact it will have on Southern Manitoba. Stay tuned!