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Calgary weather: A second round of winter weather moves into Alberta late Friday

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Cleanup continues after Thursday’s intense snowfall which shut down some major highways and brought a rapid return to winter conditions for most of southern Alberta.

With a second system on the way starting Friday, there will be a narrow window to work within.

As expected, Thursday’s system hit hard and fast. Traction was significantly compromised on many road surfaces and sidewalks after a hard layer of ice formed in some areas, a situation further exacerbated by a thick layer of snow that fell overtop of the ice.  

By 9:30 a.m. Thursday, 511 Alberta was still reporting many icy and snow-covered routes north, west and south of Calgary, with travel not recommended along the TransCanada highway west of Banff.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) weather summary of Thursday’s weather event, a frontal snowsquall moved through the Canmore to Calgary corridor in the early afternoon Thursday, dumping between 5-10 centimetres of snow in under an hour, as well as dropping temperatures by as much as 20-degrees, also in under one hour.

A strong north wind associated with the front created blowing snow and limited visibility to under 200-metres in some spots. 

Calgary also felt the impacts of these colliding air masses. Visibility deteriorated right before the afternoon commute Thursday as snow and blowing snow moved in from the northwest. Ahead of that, the temperature at the ECCC airport weather station dropped from 9 C at noon to -4 C by 1 p.m.

Road crews have been working on both rural and urban streets since before the snow started. As of 9:10 a.m. Friday, highways along the Alberta-B.C. corridor were still quite snow-covered and visibility appeared limited.

The avalanche risk in the Rockies, which was already concerning before this weather event (due to a weak base layer in many locations) is now even worse. Over 40 centimetres of snow fell in some mountain regions adding even more weight to an already-dense top layer. 

Unfortunately another system is expected to move in to the region late on Friday bringing more snow, blowing snow, and keeping temperatures well below seasonal.

In a special weather statement for the southeast corridor of the province, on Friday morning, ECCC notes another 10 to 20 centimetres of snow is possible for some areas, including around Medicine Hat, “Snowfall will begin late tonight and will intensify through Saturday. Total amounts of 10 to 20 cm are likely with some pockets of up to 30 cm possible.”

Calgary is expecting another eight to 15 centimetres before the end of the weekend, with the bulk of that snow expected Saturday.

For the latest weather warnings from ECCC click here. Updated road conditions from 511 Alberta can be found here. And click here for highway conditions from Drive BC.

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