Although we’ve seen the odd indication of winter since October, it might really feel like it by as early as this weekend.
In its latest seven-day weather outlook, Environment Canada is forecasting a considerable drop in temperature come Sunday with a daytime high of only -12 C. Factor in even a slight 15 kilometre-an-hour breeze and the mercury could easily be in the upper -20s before Sunday night.
“We certainly are seeing a change in the pattern coming up here,” explains meteorologist Justin Shelley with the Alberta office of Environment Canada.
“Pincher Creek, as well as the majority of the Prairies and Western Canada have been enjoying well above normal temperatures so far this winter and we are going to see a flip in that regard by next week.”
The short-range forecast for the entire southwest region calls for snow to begin Saturday night, carrying on into Sunday, but it’s the dropping temperatures that are a much bigger concern, with the possibility of long-range cold snap beginning mid next week.
“There’s still some discrepancy in just how much colder it’s going to get,” Shelley says. “Some models are showing that we’re just going to get back to near normals … so normal daytime highs for this time of year of -2 and overnight lows of -12. We’ve certainly been well above that for a number of weeks.
“With the snow Saturday into Sunday, we’re going to see the first bit of cold air descend down into southwest Alberta, but we’re not expecting to see any significant amounts, perhaps two to five centimetres. Maybe a little more for the Waterton Lakes.”
The weekend, though, could be a precursor to an extended cold snap and more wintry weather.
“By early to mid next week, we’re looking at another system that might be more significant and will likely allow for that colder air mass to move further south over the Prairies,” Shelley says.
Long-term projections range anywhere from -8 to -15 during the day, without the wind factored in, and the potential for little or no movement in temperatures until after mid month.
Shelley says the cold air is currently over top of the Yukon and Northwest Territories, and could blanket a large part of Western Canada when it settles in place.