Calgary (Rural Roots Canada) – Three snow events are expected across the Canadian prairies this week, providing much needed moisture to a region suffering from extreme drought.

Courtesy:  Government of Alberta

The above photo shows the boat launch dock at the St. Mary’s Reservoir in southern Alberta earlier this winter.   The reservoir is at only 18% of capacity.

The Oldman Reservoir (below) is at 30% capacity, and in some areas is reduced to a rather small stream.

Courtesy:  Government of Alberta

As mentioned, there are three snow events over the next week.   The first one happens Monday, extending from central Alberta to southwestern Manitoba.   15-30 cm of snow is expected in those regions, with the chance of about 20 cm of snow in the foothills west of Claresholm.

ECCC GDPS model showing expected snowfall accumulations Monday.

The second snow event happens Thursday, and has the potential to dump large amounts of snow in the foothills west of Red Deer, and north to Jasper.   Unfortunately, south of Banff, there won’t be much snowfall from this system, as the moisture will fall west of the continental divide.     This system will also produce accumulating snow in the forests of northern Saskatchewan.

The most beneficial snow event is likely the one to come on Sunday.  As you see in the map below, the snow is expected to reach the parched areas of southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

ECCC GDPS model showing expected snowfall accumulations Sunday.

This particular model shows accumulations of up to 15 cm in Alberta (green), with higher amounts in parts of southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba (darker green).    Unfortunately, this snow won’t have much of an impact on these critically low reservoir levels:

There is faint hope.  It does look like there will be significant snow accumulations in the higher elevations of the Rockies this week.   That will improve the snowpack, and provide moisture for spring runoff.

Courtesy:  ECCC    Map shows this week’s snow accumulaton to Sunday at 6:00 pm.

READ MORE: Percentage of Precipitation: What It Means and How to Interpret it

Here’s how the week shapes up:


Sunday, arctic air plunges into the province, knocking temperatures all the way down to negative double digits Monday and Tuesday.  The arctic air will drag in behind a fast moving Alberta Clipper Low, and that will generate the aforementioned Monday snow event for central Alberta.   There will be strong wind and high wind chill associated with this, so conditions could be quite nasty Monday, especially in the morning.  Tuesday and Wednesday will be dry, and it will warm up in southern Alberta Wednesday as another clipper forms over the foothills.   That system will head straight south to Waterton Thursday,  and behind that, temperatures plummet, and significant snow could fall in the foothills between Highway 11 and Jasper.   Light snow will fall Thursday elsewhere in central and southern Alberta.   It will remain cold through the weekend as we welcome more snow Sunday morning.   This snow will move through fairly quickly, and there won’t be much accumulation, but it will hit the parched prairie of southern Alberta.    This is still a week away, and the forecast could change, meaning there is potential for even more snow.    Or less.


A fast moving Alberta clipper will bring snow and maybe even a bit of rain to southern Saskatchewan before sunrise Monday.   By breakfast, the fast moving system will be centred right over Regina.   Snow will fall across central Saskatchewan, and along the warm front into Manitoba.  As that system heads south into the Dakotas, arctic air will flood in behind it, and there will be a strong wind, creating snow and blowing snow conditions through early Monday.  Other than a brief warmup Thursday, it will remain cold across Saskatchewan all week.   High pressure will dominate through the mid week, meaning clear, but cold conditions continue.     By Friday, snow again forms in central Saskatchewan, with minor accumulations.   A more significant snow event is likely Sunday, with considerable amounts of snow falling in the far southeastern corner of the province,  near the North Portal border crossing.


While the central and northern regions of the province remain cold all week, southern Manitobans will experience warm breaks Monday and Friday, when temperatures could briefly climb above the melting point.   In between, block heaters may be called into service Wednesday morning, when temperatures across the province will flirt with -30.     That cold weather won’t last long, replaced with warmer weather south of the narrows on Friday.  While most parts of Manitoba can expect snow early in the week, it will remain dry in the south from Wednesday until Sunday afternoon,  when moisture ahead of a Colorado low could bring rain, freezing rain and more snow to southern Manitoba.

A reminder to check Environment Canada through the week for warnings, especially for snowfall and, during the mid-week, extreme cold.

COMPARE LAST WEEK: Prairie Weather this Week: Feb 19