Major Winter Storm to Start the Week

A major winter storm will impact all of Southern Manitoba to start the week. Accumulations will be very heavy in some areas, but luckily this won’t be another blizzard.


Weather Conditions at 12pm on Monday (GEM-Regional)

A developing low pressure system currently located in south-western Saskatchewan will be responsible for the snow. This system was formed as a powerful upper-level disturbance moved onshore in British Columbia late last night. This disturbance continues to track across the Prairies and will provide the lift necessary to generate the snow.

The snow has already begun to fall in south-western Manitoba this evening. Bands of moderate to heavy snow have been falling just south-west of Brandon. Heavy snow will continue to develop in this region as the evening progresses. Further east in the Red River Valley snow will begin to fall gradually this evening, with heavier bands moving in overnight. By Monday morning all of Southern Manitoba will be in the snow. It is expected that the heaviest snow will fall mainly south and west of Winnipeg, particularly along the international border, though the city will see decent accumulations as well. The following graphic shows our snowfall forecast for Southern Manitoba:


Snowfall totals by Tuesday morning across Southern Manitoba.

The wind through this event won’t be particularly strong, with speeds of 20-30km/h gusting to 40-50km/h expected during the day on Monday. This will cause some blowing and drifting snow on the highways, but within urban areas the wind won’t be a significant factor. Temperatures through the day on Monday will be fairly steady in the mid to upper minus single digits, so the wind chill won’t be very high either. The snow will taper off on Tuesday night, with only lingering flurries expected by daybreak on Tuesday.

Tuesday will see our weather begin to settle down as the storm departs. As mentioned above, we may see a few flurries during the day on Tuesday, but additional accumulations will be small. Temperatures won’t drop off much, with highs once again in the mid to upper single digits.

Wednesday will again be a rather unexciting day weather-wise. Temperatures will be in the mid to upper minus single digits with a brisk south-easterly wind.

Alberta Clipper To Blast SW Manitoba

A powerful Alberta Clipper system will push through southwest Manitoba this evening bringing heavy snowfall and blowing snow to the region.

Probability of > 2cm of snow from this AB Clipper

Probability of > 2cm of snow from this AB clipper. Blue boundary marks > 30% chance, green boundary marks > 60% chance.

The weather across Southern Manitoba will be fairly benign today with daytime highs generally sitting just below the freezing mark with increasing clouds through the day. Winds will remain light through the day. Light snow will push into southwestern Manitoba this afternoon, potentially pushing into the western Red River Valley as well. Winnipeg may see some light snow this afternoon, but it’s going to likely remain to our southwest; should snow push into the city, there will be little-to-no accumulation. Regions that see more persistent snow today, potentially including the western Red River Valley, accumulations will likely total around 2-ish cm.


Mostly cloudy with patchy light snow.
-3°C / -16°C

Early this evening the Alberta Clipper will begin working it’s way into the Virden & Melita regions, quickly expanding eastwards towards Brandon and Pilot Mound. General snowfall accumulations will be close to 5cm, but there will also be a very narrow band, just north of the track of the clipper, where accumulations will be closer to 10cm. This corridor of heavy snow will lie across the Trans-Canada highway near the Saskatchewan border; anybody travelling west tonight should prepare to encounter heavy snow, snow drifts and near-zero visibilities near the Saskatchewan border. Further east, there’s a little disagreement on what will happen; most models suggest very little snow will fall in the Red River Vally tonight, however the NAM guidance is suggesting that a fair amount could fall. At this point, I think that most of the snow will push into North Dakota before it pushes eastwards towards Winnipeg or the central Red River Valley. Areas near the International Border may get clipped with a couple cm of snow as this clipper exits the region. Winds will remain relatively light, picking up to 20 gusting 40km/h out of the northeast overnight through much of Southern Manitoba. Temperatures will drop to around –14 to –16°C across Southern Manitoba.



Clearing in the morning.
-14°C / -21°C

Cooler air will filter into Southern Manitoba on Thursday behind the clipper, bringing us a return to seasonal temperatures. The remaining cloud from Wednesday’s system should clear out fairly early in the day, leaving us with mainly sunny skies. We’ll climb to around –13°C with a light north wind. Temperatures will drop into the –20’s tonight as another Arctic ridge slumps into the Prairies.



Clearing in the morning.
-14°C / -20°C

Southern Manitoba will be locked under the Arctic ridge on Friday which will result in another day with seasonal temperatures. Highs will sit near –15°C on Friday across most of Southern Manitoba with temperatures dropping back towards –20°C for the night.

After that, it looks like we’ll head back towards above-normal temperatures for a few days. Little-to-no precipitation is expected over the next while.

Warmer Weekend Ahead With An Uncertain Finish

Warmer weather will wash across the Red River Valley this weekend as a south-westerly flow brings in mild Pacific air. While the sun won’t be overly present, conditions will be quite pleasant with mild temperatures and light winds. The weekend will finish on an uncertain note as a Colorado Low ejects from the Central Plains with wavering agreement on where it’s heading after that.

500mb Winds for Sunday Morning

500mb winds valid for Sunday morning at 12Z. A complicated set-up will be underway as the polar jet merges with the sub-tropical jet and a shortwave from the northern Prairies merges into a developing Colorado Low.

Mostly cloudy.
-6°C / -9°C

Skies will be mainly cloudy today as a warm front pushes eastwards towards the Red River Valley. Temperatures will climb up to –7 or –6°C, a welcome break from the cold temperatures we’ve had over the past week. Winds will pick up out of the south-southeast to 30–40km/h this morning with a slight chance of some local blowing snow through the Red River Valley. There will be a very slight chance of a few flakes of snow but there won’t be anything that can be considered significant. Temperatures will drop a few degrees tonight to about –9°C under mainly cloudy skies.



A mix of sun & cloud.
-4°C / -9°C

Perhaps the nicest day of the weekend will be Saturday as the clouds begin to break up a little and temperatures climb as high as –4 or –3°C. Winds will remain fairly light through the Red River Valley through the day. Not much to say for Saturday night; skies will likely clear in the evening but fairly quickly cloud over again early in the morning on Sunday.


Sunday is a very complicated weather day. As it stands right now, we may see absolutely no snow or…quite a bit of snow, including the potential for a blizzard through portions of the Red River Valley. Temperatures should remain close to what they look to be right now with highs near –5°C across much of the Red River Valley. Winds will likely remain relatively light, regardless of the overall pattern, as there will be no significant Arctic high building into the region.

As for the complicating factors…


Mostly cloudy. Snow/freezing rain uncertain.
-5°C / -11°C

The general synoptic pattern will be as such: a significant Colorado Low will be ejecting into central Nebraska on Saturday night with a sharp trough digging northeastwards into SE South Dakota while, at the same time, a relatively weak low pressure system slides south-eastwards out of northern Saskatchewan towards central Manitoba. By Sunday morning, the Canadian low and it’s associated jet stream will merge with the Colorado Low with the CO low situated in central Nebraska with a sharp trough extending northwards through extreme western Minnesota then arcing through the Red River Valley northwestwards towards The Pas, MB. It’s always a concerning issue when the troughs end up west of the Red River Valley, as it can often mean a northward progression of the weather into our area.

Models have notorious struggles with complicated setups where two distinct atmospheric streams merge. It’s an incredibly dynamic, sensitive process in which even small changes can dramatically effect the evolution of the entire system, so models can often waver wildly on what the outcome will be from small changes in their initial conditions. That being said, using ensemble forecasts, the track of the low, and it’s associated snow, has been creeping northwestwards; two days ago the entirety of the snow was forecast to push only into Central Minnesota; now it’s forecast to clip southeastern Manitoba, including Sprague and portions of the Whiteshell. Model trends can sometimes be more helpful than the actual model output, and combining the ensemble’s northwards trend with the knowledge that this is definitely a situation where the model may not tilt the 500mb trough enough and then, as a result, not bring the low far enough north or west, I can’t say with any certainty what Sunday will bring.

There’s a distinct chance that the snow will remain entirely on the US side of the border and we’ll be relatively unaffected by this system. Should things develop in such a way that the low digs a little more and the trough tilts a little more, it’s also entirely possible that another 5–15cm of snow, or potentially higher, will fall across the Red River Valley. In addition to the uncertainty with all these elements, should the precipitation push further to the NW into Southern Manitoba, there will be a distinct potential for freezing rain as 850mb wet bulb temperatures sit on the positive side of the 0°C mark.

The reality is that for this type of setup, it’s simply too early to tell what’s going to happen. We’ll most certainly be providing updates in the comments below on the development of this Colorado Low. For now, it’s safe to assume that Sunday will be a warmer day with winds in the 20–30km/h range, but the actual weather conditions may end up being quite poor depending on the evolution of this system.

Powerful Colorado Low to Bring A Blizzard to Southern Manitoba

An intense Colorado Low, coupled with a strong surge of bitterly cold Arctic air, will plunge Southern Manitoba back into the deep freeze and bring heavy snow and white-out conditions to the Red River Valley, including Winnipeg.

Surface Analysis of Southern Manitoba

Surface analysis of Southern Manitoba valid 6:45AM today. A strong warm front is draped over the SE corner of the province, with temperatures near 0°C & light winds in the warm sector. To the west of the warm front, strong winds are already in place through the Red River Valley and temperatures have dropped close to the –10°C mark.

A very energetic upper-level trough that has been anchored over the Rocky Mountains has finally begun it’s eastwards trek, which will spawn a Colorado Low later today set to track through Minnesota. The graphic above shows the expected low tracks from North American Ensemble Forecast System, and it’s quite easy to see that there’s fairly strong agreement to the track of the low through Minnesota. This is significant because with strong Colorado Low systems, the heaviest snowfall falls in a fairly tight band to the northwest of the low track, and a minor shift in the track can result in a significant change in snowfall accumulations for any one location. As things stand, it looks that the Red River Valley and southeastern Manitoba will be under fire for the heaviest snow accumulations from this system.

Freezing precipitation potential for today

Freezing precipitation potential for the daytime today.

We’ll be starting the day with patchy freezing drizzle and snow through the Red River Valley, with the risk of freezing rain for regions east of the Red River. Periods of light snow will slowly intensify through the day today across southern Manitoba (although it could be falling as freezing rain for areas east of the Red River) as the system begins to move off the Rocky Mountains in the United States. As the Colorado Low becomes better formed by this evening, snow will really begin to pick up across the whole of Southern Manitoba. Winds will start off around 40km/h with gusts to 60km/h and pick up to 50 gusting 70 or 80km/h by the evening. Blowing snow will become widespread across the Red River Valley this afternoon and become a significant travel hazard this evening. Total snowfall accumulations today should sit at 5–10cm for most places, with the potential for higher amounts in upslope areas near Dauphin. If freezing rain does materialize in the mentioned areas, up to 1–2mm of it may fall.

Temperatures will sit just around the 0°C mark over the SE portion of the province this morning, with cooler temperatures to the west in the Red River Valley. Cooler air will work it’s way in from the NW through the day, with temperatures slowly dropping to the –10 to –16°C by the evening.

Blizzard warnings are issued by Environment Canada for storms that will bring at least 4 consecutive hours of visibilities of 1/4 mile (400 metres) or less in snow and/or blowing snow, along with sustained winds of 40 km/h or more. Specific thresholds of snowfall are not required for blizzard warnings, as they are based on visibility criteria, not snowfall amounts.

The strongest portion of this system will pass through tonight. Heavy snowfall combined with strong winds will produce blizzard conditions through the Red River Valley. Inside the city of Winnipeg, buildings should provide enough shelter to keep visibilities higher, but open areas and the Perimeter Highway will be pummelled with near-zero visibilities. White-out conditions will exist across many highways in Southern Manitoba tonight, especially any west-east running roads. It’s also probable that the Trans-Canada Highway may be closed this evening. In addition to the poor visibilities, many highways will be extremely slippery as fresh snow and blowing snow polish a newly-frozen road top. It’s highly recommended that you avoid any travelling tonight. If you have absolutely no choice, ensure that your vehicle has a winter survival kit and be sure to check the most recent highway conditions. Generally another 10–20cm of snow will fall across Southern Manitoba tonight with overnight lows between –15°C and –18°C.

Total Accumulated Snowfall by Saturday Morning

Our forecast of total accumulated snowfall from this system by Saturday morning.

Saturday morning will likely bring full out blizzard conditions through the Red River Valley with the strong northerly winds still in place. Snow will taper off and the winds will calm down through midday Saturday as the Colorado Low pulls off towards James Bay. Total snowfall amounts across Southern Manitoba should end up in the 10–20cm range, however there may be two areas with high uncertainty that could end up with 20–30cm of snow:

  1. The western escarpment of the Red River Valley, roughly from Portage la Prairie northwards to Dauphin. The strong N/NW winds will provide upslope enhancement to this region which should elevate snowfall amounts over the surrounding regions.
  2. The Red River Valley (including Winnipeg). This is the most difficult part of the forecast; models have been up and down with their forecast snowfall amounts with some producing as little as 10cm and others producing as much as 26–28cm. This will depend on the exact track and timing of this system, coupled with moisture supply. I’ve gone for 15–20cm for the most likely snow accumulation for most of the Red River Valley; but I can’t rule out the possibility of accumulations closer to 25cm for some places.

This system will be the strongest winter storm we’ve seen this season. Once again, to reiterate, the main points of this system are:

  • Strongest part of the system will pass through Southern Manitoba tonight.
  • Strong winds gusting as high as 80km/h will produce widespread blowing snow giving near-zero visibilities through nearly the entirety of Southern Manitoba.
  • Heavy snowfall giving storm-total accumulations from 10–25cm.
  • Extremely treacherous driving conditions produced by heavy snow, icy roads, and near-zero visibilities in snow/blowing snow. Road closures are likely.

Conditions should be significantly improved by Saturday evening with calm winds and clear skies as the Arctic ridge moves into our region. Temperatures will remain steady around –18 or –19°C for Winnipeg & the Red River Valley.

Sunday will bring sunny skies with a very cold daytime high of only –22 or –23°C. Winds will remain light, keeping wind chill values minimized.

We’ll post updates in the comments below. Feel free to leave comments letting everyone know what you’re seeing in your neck of the woods and/or how much snow you get!