Winnipeg Set To Receive A Blizzard for Christmas

The consensus is in: it seems overwhelmingly likely that Winnipeg will see a major winter storm bringing significant snow and blizzard conditions beginning midday on Christmas Day and persisting through Boxing Day.

The Lead-Up

Today and tomorrow will both be fairly benign days. Today will bring above-normal temperatures with a high near -4°C and light winds. A bit of cloud will be around but it should be a fairly sunny day overall. A weak cold front will swing through late this afternoon, bringing in northwesterly winds to around 20 km/h and cooler temperatures. The low tonight will drop to about -15°C with increasing cloud.

Tomorrow will be a mainly cloudy day with a much cooler high temperature near -12°C behind that cold front. Winds will continue out of the north to northeast at around 20 km/h. Temperatures will drop to a low near -15°C once agin on Saturday night with a good chance of light snow spreading into the Red River Valley from the southwest through the second half of the night.

Major Winter Storm For Christmas

The major story here is the significant winter storm set to impact Southern Manitoba on Christmas Day.

The system is currently develop off the western coast of North America. This satellite animation, taken from midnight last night, shows the long-wave trough that will evolve into a major winter storm beginning to dig southwards as it approaches the western United States. At this point, it looks like snow will intensify through the day on Sunday, with the most potent part of the storm impacting the Red River Valley roughly from 12PM Christmas Day through 12PM Boxing Day.

If you have travel plans for Christmas Day or Boxing Day, this storm will almost certainly disrupt them.

Christmas Day will start with some light snow over the Red River Valley that will intensify rapidly midday as a very potent low pressure system lifts northwards into North Dakota & Minnesota. The heaviest snow will move in by Sunday evening and persist until late Monday morning. By all indications, the snow will be relentless on Sunday night with rapid accumulations. Through this period, the wind will also be increasing out of the northeast to 40-50 km/h. The heavy snow overnight combined with strong winds will produce blizzard conditions through the Red River Valley with zero or near-zero visibilities. There is a high likelihood that most highways will be closed through the night.

The wind and snow will taper off on Monday. Fortunately, without a potent high pressure system building in from the northwest, a weak trough line hanging back across the province from the low will break up the strong winds. This should limit the period of worst travel conditions, with it seeming likely that by Monday afternoon highway travel will be possible again, although likely still slow.

AWM Snowfall Outlook for December 25-26, 2016

When all is said and done, the snowfall from this system should be quite impressive. Widespread amounts of 15-30 cm will be seen across the region, with areas south of a line running roughly from Pilot Mound through Winnipeg and Pinawa having the chance of seeing snowfall totals creep above 30 cm. At this point it looks like 30-35 cm would be the upper end of the potential snowfall totals, but there is high confidence in amounts of 20-30 cm.

Light snow and flurries may linger through the remainder of boxing day before gradually tapering off overnight or early on the 27th.

Winnipeg’s seasonal daytime high is currently -12°C while the seasonal overnight low is -22°C.

Major Winter Storm Moving In

Environment Canada has issued a Winter Storm Warning for this system.

A major winter storm is moving in as you read this article. It will bring the first serious snowfall of the year to the Red River Valley, with heavy blowing snow or even blizzard conditions possible in many areas. You may want to reconsider any travel plans early this week!

A strong low pressure system will bring heavy snow and strong winds to southern Manitoba early this week
A strong low pressure system will bring heavy snow and strong winds to southern Manitoba early this week

Today

Monday
0°C / -2°C
Snow beginning

A strong low pressure system will move off the Rocky Mountains and into North Dakota today. It will spread moderate to heavy snowfall into parts of western Manitoba this morning, before snow spreads over the rest of southern Manitoba later in the day. Snowfall will fall for the entire day in most of western Manitoba, with total accumulations of 10-15 cm expected in most areas. Further east, the Red River Valley will see lesser amounts today, with 2-5 cm in the Winnipeg area and more like 5-10 cm near the International border. Local amounts of 15 cm may occur along the International border in south-central Manitoba. Winds will be gusty from the east at 20-30 km/h, producing some blowing and drifting snow.

Tuesday

Tuesday
-2°C / -4°C
Blizzard Developing with Heavy Snow

Conditions will really begin to deteriorate early Tuesday as winds shift to the northwest. Snow will continue to fall as well, with an additional 10-20 cm possible in the Red River Valley on Tuesday. Snow will taper off in southwestern Manitoba, but another 2-5 cm will be possible. The northwesterly winds that develop will be strong at 40 km/h gusting to 60 km/h, with higher values of 50 km/h gusting to 70 km/h in some treeless areas. This will likely result in blizzard conditions over large parts of southern Manitoba, especially south and west of Winnipeg. Those areas that don’t quite meet blizzard criteria will certainly see heavy blowing and drifting snow, with travel becoming difficult or impossible in some areas. Road closures are likely, especially the Trans-Canada Highway west of Winnipeg and Highway 75 south of Winnipeg. Conditions will not improve significantly until early Wednesday.

Expect storm-total snowfall accumulations by Wednesday morning.
Expect storm-total snowfall accumulations by Wednesday morning.

Wednesday

Wednesday
-12°C / -20°C
Snow and blizzard ending

Snow should finally taper off on Wednesday morning in all of southern Manitoba, but not until most areas have received significant accumulations of snow. Southwestern Manitoba can expect 15-25 cm, while Winnipeg can expect 10-20 cm. Areas along the International border in south-central Manitoba can expect to receive 20-30 cm. Locally higher amounts may occur where heavier bands of snow persist for a longer period of time. Large snow drifts will be a problem on Wednesday, even once the snow ends. Some rural roads may be impassable due to heavy drifting. Blowing snow will persist on Wednesday, but winds will slowly decrease throughout the day. Temperatures will have dropped noticeably on Wednesday as this system begins to pull down a cold arctic air mass.

Long Range

Conditions will finally calm down on Thursday as winds taper off. However, in the wake of this strong low we’ll see a blast of arctic air, with temperatures likely dropping into the minus twenties on Thursday and Friday. This frigid pattern is expected to persist for awhile, so make sure to get out those winter clothes!

IR Satellite Image of Late-March Storm over the Southern Prairies

Winter Storm Slams Manitoba

A potent spring storm is moving into Manitoba today and will likely exit the region known as one of the strongest of the Winter 2014/15 season. This storm has already brought drizzle, rain and freezing rain to southwestern Manitoba & the Red River Valley and will end up delivering the whole wintery mix by the time all is said and done. Environment Canada has issued a swath of heavy snowfall warnings and special weather statements across Manitoba in advance of this system.

Tuesday Night

Tuesday Night
-1°C
Rain changing to snow

Rain will redevelop this evening and persist through much of the overnight period until a cold front pushes through the Red River Valley and switches the precipitation over to snow. Many areas in the Red River Valley will see around 5-10mm of rain. Alongside the switchover to snow, strong northwesterly winds to 40-50km/h with gusts as high as 70km/h will begin to move into the Red River Valley. The combination of falling snow and strong winds, coupled with the temperature dropping below zero overnight after a day of melting, drizzle & rain will likely produce very poor driving conditions with slippery roads & poor visibilities in blowing snow by Wednesday morning.

Wednesday

Wednesday
⇒ -2°C / -11°C
Snow ending in the afternoon; windy

Snow will continue through Wednesday morning before beginning to taper off through the afternoon with a further 5-10cm possible for the City of Winnipeg and the Red River Valley. As mentioned before, the snow will be accompanied by strong northwesterly winds to 40-50km/h which will produce a fair amount of blowing snow as well. Temperatures will drop just barely to -2 or -3°C through the day. Given the relatively mild temperatures, it’s quite likely that as soon as the snow begins to taper off, the blowing snow will too; falling snow will be needed to produce it and it’s unlikely we’ll see much ground-based blowing snow after the fact. Winds will begin to taper off late in the afternoon or in the early evening as the storm moves off into Ontario. Left behind the storm will be partly cloudy skies as temperatures drop to around -11°C.


Storm Update

As expected, many regions across Manitoba saw a significant dump of snow overnight and into this morning. Snowfall totals to 10:30AM CDT across Manitoba are:

LocationSnowfall Amount
Winnipeg5cm
Portage la Prairie5-10cm
Brandon6cm
Steinbach5cm
Dauphin15-25cm
Rossburn20cm
McCreary18cm
Neepawa15cm
Fisher Branch15cm
Roblin14cm
Elkhorn10cm
Argyle10cm
Swan River8cm
Miami6cm
Morris2cm

In addition to the heavy snow, many areas through the Red River Valley saw several hours of rain last night. Here in Winnipeg, around 8mm fell overnight, and preliminary reports indicate that similar amounts were seen through much of the Red River Valley. In addition to the snow and rain, very strong winds to 50-60km/h moved into Red River Valley this morning producing blowing snow and helping make sure roads are slick.

The winter weather has wreaked havoc on area infrastructure with numerous accidents on highways as well as complications to power infrastructure with numerous pole fires & power line damage events reported. Many motor-vehicle collisions were reported on Manitoba Highways, with several resulting in sections of Highways 1 and 75 being closed. Two of the more significant ones, pictured above, involved a jackknifed semi-truck collision near Elie and a school bus rollover near Ste. Agathe on Highway 75.

Conditions have begun to improve in the Red River Valley; winds remain strong however with the snow finally moving off into Ontario, much of the blowing snow has stopped. Road conditions will continue to be poor through the remainder of the day, so if you are driving, especially on area highways, be sure to give yourself extra time and be cautious.


Thursday

Thursday
-6°C / -11°C
Partly cloudy

Thursday will be a mainly sunny day – perhaps just a few lingering clouds – with a cool high of just -6°C. Winds will be light, so with the increasingly strong March sun it may not actually feel all that bad outside. Even with the sub-zero temperatures, expect plenty of melting to happen. We head into Thursday night with clear skies and cool off to around -10 or -11°C again overnight, although that could be a couple degrees warmer depending on when cloud cover arrives from…

Friday

Friday
-3°C / -8°C
Mainly cloudy with a chance of light snow

Friday will bring mainly cloudy skies as clouds push in either early Friday morning or late overnight on Thursday thanks to a system rippling through Southern Manitoba from the northwest. It will most likely produce a band of snow through portions of the Parkland, Southwest and into the Western Red River Valley. Under this band, accumulations of 1-2cm look possible at this time. There’s a little uncertainty as to the exact track, given that it’s 3.5 days out at this point, so it may end up a little further west or east. With the current “most likely” track, Winnipeg sees a fairly decent chance at some flurries but little in the way of accumulations. Temperatures will climb to around -3°C with fairly light winds. Friday night looks pleasant with light winds again and a low near -8°C.

Long Range

It’s looking as if another storm is possible on Saturday night as a shortwave tracks across Manitoba.

GDPS 24hr. QPF Forecast valid 12Z Sunday March 29, 2015
The GDPS is forecasting a fair amount of precipitation associated with a significant storm moving through Manitoba this weekend.

Fortunately, it seems like it will be bringing enough warm air with it that precipitation would fall as rain. Either way, though, it looks like we’ll see plenty of cloud and wind this weekend. After a long spell of little in the way of weather, it looks like a typical, more active springtime pattern is setting up!

Mid-January Storm To Bring All Manner of Nasty Weather

A powerful storm system is pushing into Southern Manitoba this morning and will become the first major storm of the year. This storm will impact the entirety of Manitoba and bring very strong winds, heavy snow, near-blizzard conditions and a good chance of some freezing rain. Read on to find out where will see what as we break this thing down.

  • Significant weather expected: strong winds (and blowing snow), freezing rain and heavy snowfall.

  • Expected storm-total snowfall amounts from this system.

Disclaimer: I could write many more words than I have time to write about this system. As such, I’m going to just explicitly state right now that while I may mention areas outside the Red River Valley, the focus of this post will be for the weather expected in Winnipeg & the Red River Valley.

We’ll start out with the good news: temperatures are expected to stay near or above normal[1] through the remainder of the week; no horribly cold Arctic air is expected to slam southwards into the Prairies with this system. That’s about where the good news ends, though.

As we progress through this morning, an area of snow will move into the Red River Valley, pushing in from the west ahead of the incoming warm front. The low pressure centre is currently in northeastern Saskatchewan and will begin to dive southeast into Central Manitoba later this morning. Winds will strengthen out of the south this morning up to around 40-50km/h with gusts as high as 70km/h. Despite the relatively mild temperatures – we’re sitting at around -10°C – extensive blowing snow will likely be an issue in areas to the south of Winnipeg[2] thanks to the strength of the winds.

Wednesday

3°C / -11°C
Snow beginning this morning. Very windy. Risk of freezing rain this afternoon. Flurries overnight with blizzard conditions in the Red River Valley.

The heaviest snowfall will pass to the north and east of the city where a heavy snowfall warning is in effect for 10-15cm of snow. Here in the Red River Valley we’ll see a fair gradient in snowfall amounts from the southwest corner to the northeast corner thanks to how the precipitation spreads in from northwest to southeast. Through the day today, areas in the southwest corner can expect the lighter end of the snowfall with only around 2-5cm accumulation by the evening. Here in Winnipeg we’ll see from 5-10cm of snow while closer to 10cm of snow will fall to our north and east.

Our winds, as mentioned before, will become quite strong out of the south. They’ll lighten a little bit for the early afternoon as they swing to the west as the low pressure system moves through the Interlake and the warm front pushes east of the Red River Valley. Our temperature will jump up to around +2 or +3°C and we’ll see a break in any blowing snow that’s happening. By mid-to-late afternoon, though, a cold front will be approaching. Winds will shift a little more to the northwest and we’ll see a risk for some freezing rain just ahead of and along the cold front as it pushes through. In addition, there is the potential for some fairly heavy bursts of snow along the cold front with some models hinting that there may be a fair amount of convective activity associated with it[3]. Winds will shift straight out of the northwest by the evening and strengthen considerably to 50km/h with gusts potentially as high as 80km/h overnight here in Winnipeg.

This wind will readily whip up the freshly fallen snow in the RRV and produce near-zero or white-out conditions on area highways. Despite the fact that temperatures will not drop too quickly – only to around -10°C overnight – it will still be a brutal night. Continued flurry activity will likely continue through the night, compounding the visibility problems presented by the winds alone.

Thursday


⇒ -10°C / -20°C
Windy with blowing snow. Mainly cloudy.

The snow will taper off early on Thursday, but poor visibilities will continue through much of the day as the strong northwest winds persist at 40-50km/h at least into the early afternoon. Temperatures will remain fairly steady at around -10°C.

By evening the wind will taper off as a ridge of high pressure moves into the province, bringing an end to any blowing snow left in the Red River Valley. The clouds will also scatter out and we’ll drop to a chilly -21°C for our overnight low.

Friday & The Weekend


-10°C / -14°C
Cloudy periods with a chance of afternoon flurries.

Friday will start off sunny but some cloudy periods will develop as a warm front pushes into the Red River Valley. We’ll become overcast in the mid-to-late afternoon and see a chance for a few flurries as the warm front pushes eastwards. This front will usher in warmer air for the weekend with highs near the 0°C mark and overnight lows dropping just shy of around -10°C.


  1. Normal daytime highs are around -13°C for mid-January.  ↩
  2. As usual, with a southerly wind the highways that will be affected most are those that run west/east.  ↩
  3. As evidenced by lightning in Northern Alberta last night.  ↩