Major Winter Storm Hammers Southern Manitoba

A Colorado Low is bringing a major early-season winter storm to southern Manitoba that ranges from rain to a crippling blizzard.

Because the storm is ongoing and long-lasting, we are not issuing a standard forecast today. This is a complex and dynamic system that requires constant monitoring as the snow/rain line wiggles around the region. We strongly encourage you check your local weather forecast from ECCC and the weather warnings in your area.

As a general overview, a Colorado Low will gradually move into southeastern Manitoba today. Waves of rain will spread westwards, transitioning into moderate to heavy snow over the Red River Valley and areas west. Storm total snowfall will range from a trace all the way up to in excess of 50 cm. The most snow will fall in upslope areas of the Turtle Mountains, Riding Mountains, and the western escarpment of the Red River Valley. The snow that is falling will be wet, heavy snow, resulting in significant snow loading on trees and infrastructure.

Complicating matters will be strong north-northwest winds with widespread gusts in the 70 to 90 km/h range. These strong winds, combined with the heavy snow, will produce poor visibilities and an elevated risk of damage to trees an infrastructure. Over 23,000 people were without power on Thursday evening and the widespread power outages will likely continue today as well.

Heavy snow will continue over southern Manitoba today with the hardest hit areas extending from the western Red River Valley region southwards into eastern North Dakota.

The storm will gradually ease across the region on Saturday, leaving just a few flurries or showers for Sunday.

Today’s seasonal daytime high in Winnipeg is 12°C while the seasonal overnight low is +1°C.

Major Winter Storm Set to Hit Southern Manitoba, North Dakota

A potent Colorado low will bring the first blast of winter to southern Manitoba in the form of a high-impact storm.

A developing Colorado Low will spread several waves of precipitation across southern Manitoba over the next few days. It all begins later today as light rain moves into the Red River Valley from the west.1 The rain will weaken overnight, but the next wave of precipitation will surge northwards early Thursday. This will fall as rain over SE Manitoba and change to snow across the Red River Valley. For many areas, it likely means a winter mix through the day.

Forecast precipitation amounts are high, with 15 to 25 mm forecast for the region. Any areas that see more of this as snow than rain could end up with a good 10 to 15 cm of wet, heavy snow by the end of the day. In Winnipeg, it looks likely that the city will see a mix of rain and snow through much of the day, changing to snow at night.

Another wave of precipitation will move through on Friday, bringing more rain and snow to the region. Another 15 to 30 mm is possible Thursday night through Friday, bringing storm-total precipitation into the 30 to 50 mm range.

Regardless of what form it takes, a lot more water is on the way for southern Manitoba.
Regardless of what form it takes, a lot more water is on the way for southern Manitoba.

Where exactly the transition from snow to rain occurs will need to be determined as the event itself develops, but we feel this is the most likely outcome. Different areas will see varying amounts of snow and snow accumulation based on where that line sets up. In the hardest hit areas, snowfall in excess of 25 cm may be possible. As mentioned before, the snow will be heavy and wet. Other areas may see upwards of 50 mm of rain. No matter how it falls, a lot more water is on the way for southern Manitoba.

Follow our twitter account for short-form updates as this system develops. If you are travelling in the coming days, know that the weather will be similarly poor across eastern North Dakota and adverse to dangerous driving conditions may develop.

In addition the precipitation, this storm will bring strong northerly winds and cool temperatures.

The cooler air will surge into the region today, sending temperatures falling to +4°C by the end of the afternoon. As the precipitation moves in tonight, temperatures should fall further to around +1°C by Thursday morning. Through the rest of the work week, temperatures will hover within a degree or two of the 0°C mark.

Winds will pick up out of the north into the 30 to 40 km/h range today, then strengthen to 40 gusting 60 km/h on Thursday. On Friday, winds may reach 50 gusting 70 km/h in some areas, especially in the lee of the lakes. In areas where these strong winds can combine with snow, visibilities will be severely restricted and the winds may produce damage add stress above and beyond the heavy loading from the wet snow.

One of the larger areas of uncertainty is on Friday. Forecast models diverge on where exactly the low centre goes, and some are bringing it relatively far west into southeastern Manitoba. If that occurred, it would be likely that Winnipeg, the eastern Red River Valley, and the southeastern corner of the province would be spared from much of the precipitation. We’ll be keeping an eye on things to see how they develop.

Long Range Outlook

A wintery mix of precipitation will likely persist through much of Saturday, tapering off to a chance of showers or flurries on Sunday. Temperatures will remain cool with highs of just 2 or 3°C and lows near +1°C. No significant precipitation is forecast into next week, although temperatures will remain well below seasonal values right into the end of the work week.

Today’s seasonal daytime high in Winnipeg is 12°C while the seasonal overnight low is 1°C.

  1. West of the Red River Valley, it will fall as snow instead.

Major Winter Storm Brewing, Heavy Snow On The Way

Winnipeg is on track to see an unsettled weekend culminate in a major winter storm as a Colorado Low spreads heavy snow into Manitoba on Sunday night. But the big question remains: how much?

Those hoping that we could escape winter without a major storm this year, brace yourself. It all kicks off today with cloud building through southern Manitoba as a complex storm system begins organizing over the western United States. Temperatures in Winnipeg will be mild with a high near -2°C. Winds will remain light out of the northeast. As some warmer air lifts northwards through the Dakotas towards Manitoba in the evening, it will begin bringing the chance of snow to the region. Temperatures should remain steady near -3°C on Friday night.

The uncertainty begins to ramp up on Saturday with models providing a variety of possible solutions. The general agreement as of writing is that snow will spread across southern Manitoba through the day on Saturday, with more organized snowfall developing on Saturday night. Amounts with this first batch of snow will be limited, with general amounts of 2 to 4 cm forecast on Saturday night. Temperatures will be quite mild on Saturday with a high near +1°C, which means that if precipitation moves into the Red River Valley through the day, some if it may fall as rain. Winds will be out of the east-northeast at 20 to 30 km/h.

NAM forecast simulated reflectivity with precipitation type valid 00Z Sunday March 4, 2018
Snow will be possible across much of southern Manitoba on Saturday as a line of snow lifts northwards.

Mild temperatures will continue Sunday with highs once again near 0°C. There will be a slight chance of flurries or drizzle through the day as a Colorado Low begins lifting northwards. Winds will continue out of the north near 30 km/h. The main event is forecast to begin on Sunday evening as heavy snow moves into the province from the south. Unfortunately, there is still quite a bit of uncertainty associated with this, including:

  • Where will the heaviest bands of snow set up?
  • How quickly will this system move?
  • Exactly how intense will the snowfall be?

For Sunday night, it looks like the main threat areas are the Red River Valley west towards the Saskatchewan border. There’s a lot of uncertainty with how fast the snow will push northwards, but reaching the Trans-Canada corridor by Monday morning looks likely. The snow will be heavy with the potential for 10 to 20 cm overnight. Winnipeg may escape much of this, instead receiving most of the heavy snow on Monday.

GFS 24 hour snowfall accumulation (at 10:1 SLR) valid 06Z Tuesday March 6, 2018
One potential snowfall outcome has up to 30 cm of snow in the Red River Valley from Sunday night through Monday. But it’s just 🎯 at this point…

The heavy snow will continue through Monday and then is forecast to taper off Tuesday evening. Storm-total snowfall from Saturday through Monday will likely fall into the 15 to 25 cm range, but there is a small chance of seeing amounts as high as 30 to 40 cm if a worst-case scenario occurs. Either way, it will easily claim the title as worst winter storm so far this year.

Travel Impacts

There will be 3 primary travel impacts from the worst of this storm:

  1. Deteriorating road conditions as snow accumulates.
  2. Reduced visibility in snow and blowing snow.
  3. Snow drifts developing on roadways.

These three elements will be out in full force Sunday night into Monday, and will likely make travel extremely difficult if not impossible. If you currently have travel plans for Sunday night or Monday, it would be a good idea to make a contingency plan and prepare for delays.

Weekend Update

It cannot be understated that the predictability associated with this system is low at this point. We’ll be posting an update or two through the next couple days leading up to the event with updated forecast information, so stay tuned.

Winnipeg’s seasonal daytime high is currently -5°C while the seasonal overnight low is -15°C.

Early Taste of Spring Continues, Winter Storm Looms on Horizon

Winnipeg will see March will kick off the same way February ends: with high temperatures near 0°C bringing an early taste of spring to the region.

The mild weather Winnipeg has seen over the past couple days isn’t going anywhere. A mild Pacific flow will continue through the rest of the work week, bringing near-freezing highs to the region. Tonight and Thursday night will both see overnight lows near -10°C.

GDPS 2m Temperature Anomaly valid 00Z Friday March 2, 2018
Much of Manitoba will see above-normal temperatures on Thursday, shown here by the areas shaded red

Winnipeg will see plenty of sun as well. A few clouds will move through the Red River Valley today, but then mainly sunny skies will be in place through Thursday and much of Friday. Some cloud will begin moving into the region late Friday ahead of a low pressure complex organizing in the United States. The cloud cover will keep Friday night’s low warmer, only dipping down to around -3°C.

Long Range Outlook – Winter Storm Brewing

The weather will turn more unsettled for the weekend as a series of low pressure systems move through the region. Mild temperatures will continue in Winnipeg, but cloudy skies will persist through the weekend into the first half of next week.

There will be a couple of chances for snow – or even a rain shower – through the weekend. Come Sunday night through Monday, what may end up as the biggest storm thus far in the 2017/18 winter season moves through. While it’s too early to put much trust in any of the forecasts, some guidance suggests Winnipeg and the Red River Valley may see over 25 cm of snow with this storm system.

GDPS 850mb Temperature Forecast valid 12Z Monday March 5, 2018
A complex, slow-moving low pressure system may bring Winnipeg the biggest winter storm of the 2017/18 season on Sunday night into Monday.

For now, just keep it in mind that there is the chance for a major snow storm to start next week. If you have travel plans involving driving on Monday, consider contingency plans just in case.

Until then, enjoy the beautiful sunshine and mild temperatures!

Winnipeg’s seasonal daytime high is currently -5°C while the seasonal overnight low is -15°C.