Only one week after a potent Prairie blizzard shut down parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba for days, another significant and high impact system looms for the eastern Prairies. Depending on which side of the storm you wind up on, you could see significant snowfall, high winds, heavy flooding rain, and possibly even a few thunderstorms. Special weather statements are already in place for this Colorado low that threatens up to 50 cm of snow in the hardest hit areas this weekend. There's more of a flood threat with this system, too. More on the impacts of this incoming storm and how it differs from the last significant blast, below.
THIS WEEKEND: ANOTHER POTENT 'SPRING' STORM WITH SIGNIFICANT SNOW THREAT
Thursday will be the calm before the next storm, though the predicted high of 2°C in both Regina and Winnipeg comes in significantly below the seasonal high of about 12-13°C for the two cities.
Clouds will thicken up through the day on Friday as our next major storm system approaches.
History loves to repeat itself, but weather patterns love to repeat even more.
Some areas that are still recovering from one of the ‘worst’ blizzards in recent memory could be in for a do-over this weekend as forecasters expect a strengthening Colorado low to roll into the eastern Prairies in time for the weekend.
REALITY CHECK: April is never really that 'nice,' Canada
Conditions will begin to deteriorate through the second half of Friday as the low-pressure system pushes into the northern Plains and precipitation starts to spill north across the border. The system will push across Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and northwestern Ontario through the day on Saturday, lingering into the first half of Sunday.
Cold air will keep precipitation types predominantly snow on the northern and western side of the system, while milder air wrapping into the storm from the south should keep communities on the eastern side of the storm rainy and, at times, on alert for some rumbles of thunder.
The low-pressure system looks to track a little farther west than last week’s blizzard, which should keep most of the snow west of Winnipeg.
A hefty swath of 30-50 cm of snow could fall locally, with some isolated areas forecast to see near 70 cm. These snowfall ranges are similar to what we saw with the previous storm however, the location will be much more narrow.
"The last storm's snow swath was much larger, this time around the greatest snowfall totals will be confined to a narrow region near southeastern Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba into the interlake region," says Kelly Sonnenburg, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.
Strong winds will be problematic once again with this incoming storm. Multi-day blizzard conditions with last week's storm left roads and schools closed for days.
Gusts of 70-90 km/h will lead to severely reduced visibility and blizzard conditions for some spots, making for dangerous travel once again especially in areas that receive the brunt of the snow.
Strong winds along the Saskatchewan and Manitoba border will create blizzard-like conditions at times on Saturday and Sunday, and travel along the Trans-Canada Highway between Brandon and Regina will not be recommended.
Milder air on the eastern side of the system will bring a period of heavy, drenching rain to portions of southeastern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario, including Winnipeg and Thunder Bay. Forecasters are watching the potential for the heavy rain to lead to flooding in some areas.
"With a gradual thaw and slow snow melt through southern Alberta, followed by much cooler temperatures with the previous spring storm, flooding concerns were not heightened. This time around, things might be different," Sonnenburg warns.
With 30-60 mm of rain and thunderstorms forecast to target the Red River Basin, and precipitation in the region 150 -200 percent of normal over the last 30 days, concerns are rising for areas along the Red River to experience minor to moderate flooding from the U.S. into southern Manitoba.
Temperatures following the system are also forecast to be above the freezing mark for the majority of next week.
Rain may change over to a period of snow on Sunday as cold air wraps behind the departing storm. This brief burst of snow could bring minor accumulations to the Winnipeg metro.
Looking ahead, calmer conditions should prevail heading into next week. Temperatures will remain significantly below seasonal next week, with the potential for a warming trend as we head toward the end of the month.
Check back frequently for the latest details on this major storm headed for the eastern Prairies.