(Rural Roots Canada) – This week should be dry across most of the prairies, with temperatures near or slightly below average overall.   Our long duration snow event last week was a no-show in most areas outside of southern Alberta, where double digit accumulations were quite common.   Here’s a chart showing snowfall totals in the area from March 19 to March 24:

Sources: Environment Canada & CoCoRaHS

An upslope flow caused Calgary to receive almost 37 cm over the five days, with lesser amounts elsewhere in the region. Negligible snow fell in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. While these amounts will do little, if anything, to tackle the long term drought, the snowfall may have a positive impact in the forests, ahead of fire season.

A couple of Colorado Lows will pass south of the Prairies this week, and dump a lot of snow in the northern US, from Eastern Montana to Minnesota. A major Low has developed in the Pacific, but all its moisture will stay west of the continental divide. That said, there will be some opportunities for fresh snow on the prairies from time to time this week. The map below of the Canadian model, valid Thursday afternoon, shows snow across Central Alberta, and in the central foothills, with a possible rain/snow mix for Edmonton. Snow will fall in parts of northern Saskatchewan as well, with a chance of rain in parts of southern Saskatchewan.

Of course, when you have rain on a precipitation chart, it’s an indication of warmer weather, and indeed, it will warm up across the prairies this week, with temperatures exceeding the melting point from time to time. So, areas that did get snow last week will see at least some of it disappear this week. The question remains how much will evaporate, how much will melt and run off, and how much will soak into the ground (depending on frost depth).


A persistent northerly flow across Alberta and Saskatchewan will maintain freezing temperatures across both provinces. There is a chance of a light snowfall Monday afternoon between Red Deer and Calgary, with trace amounts of snow falling in Calgary in the early evening. Circulation around the Colorado low in the US, will send slightly milder air into southern Manitoba, where temperatures will climb above the melting point.  That system may provide some snow to the far southeastern corner of the province, including Whiteshell Provincial Park.


By Tuesday, the US low is over Duluth, Minnesota, and pumping moisture north into Ontario and eastern Manitoba.   Expect snow east of Winnipeg and north to Berens River Tuesday morning. The rest of the prairies will be dry.  Temperatures across the prairies will be well below average, and several degrees below zero.


Snow will continue to fall in eastern Manitoba as the Low trundles its way through northwestern Ontario to Hudson Bay. It will still stay dry in Saskatchewan and southern Alberta, but snow will develop in northeastern Alberta from Fort McMurray north to the Northwest Territories.   A Pacific low pressure system, spinning for several days off the west coast, will expand its influence to Alberta  as westerly wind aloft will lead to chinook conditions.  Temperatures from Edmonton south to Montana will climb above the melting point, and the disappearance of the fresh snow in southern Alberta will accelerate.  Temperatures above zero could extend all the way east to Regina.


As seen on the map above, snow will develop in the foothills and across parts of central Alberta.   It’s too early to say at the time of this writing how much snow to expect, but we can’t rule out 10 cm or so.   However, with temperatures near or just below zero, much of that snow would presumably melt upon reaching the ground. Eastern Manitoba finally dries out as the low and the snow move into northern Ontario.  Elsewhere, across southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, temperatures will climb above zero in the afternoon.


The area of snow that developed Thursday over central Alberta will break into two pieces…with one heading south toward Red Deer and Calgary in the afternoon.   Accumulations should be fairly light, with higher amounts in the foothills.  The second piece heads into Saskatchewan, forming a line from Stony Rapids south, then crossing into Manitoba just south of Flin Flon, and extending in a line toward Winnipeg.  A cold front will put Alberta back into sub-freezing temperatures, though it will continue to be mild in Saskatchewan.

 Saturday and Sunday: 

Expect to see the sun across Alberta and southern Saskatchewan as a high pressure system sets up over Shaunavon, in southwestern Saskatchewan.   More snow will fall in northeastern Saskatchewan from Stony Rapids southeast to Flin Flon and the northern Interlake.. On Sunday, that snow heads east into Ontario. Temperatures will rise above zero across the prairies on Sunday.

COMPARE TO LAST WEEK: Prairie Weather this Week – March 18