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Special weather statement issued as forecast predicts a cold snap this week

A cold wave is expected to sweep across Alberta this week. The heaviest snowfall is likely to hit the mountain parks and along the Foothills while Calgary may receive up to 15 centimetres of snow. (Dave Gilson/CBC - image credit)
A cold wave is expected to sweep across Alberta this week. The heaviest snowfall is likely to hit the mountain parks and along the Foothills while Calgary may receive up to 15 centimetres of snow. (Dave Gilson/CBC - image credit)

While Calgarians had the opportunity to enjoy warmer temperatures Tuesday with the forecast indicating temperatures as high as 18 C, the weather is expected to take an abrupt turn by Wednesday.

Environment and Climate Change Canada issued a special statement Tuesday, indicating a cold wave will sweep across Alberta, lasting until Friday.

"Snow will begin overnight along the northern Foothills and progress southward on Wednesday. Snowfall will intensify on Thursday and spread eastward towards the Saskatchewan border. Snow will end on Friday," the statement read.

The heaviest snowfall is likely to hit the mountain parks and along the Foothills, where a total of 10 to 30 cm of snow is expected by Friday.

The conditions will be milder in the region east of Highway 2, with an estimated total snowfall of five to 10 cm.

An alert has also been issued for Highway 93, from Lake Louise to Jasper.

Rain before snow

Alysa Pederson, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, says the city will have to deal with cloudy and rainy conditions before the snow begins. (CBC)

Alysa Pederson, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, says it's going to be cloudy and rainy before snowy conditions take over.

"Our daytime high tomorrow is 11 degrees, so we're looking at rain starting Wednesday in Calgary and, of course, the west on the Foothills. And then tomorrow night, Wednesday into Thursday, changing quickly to snow as the temperature kind of plummets."

According to the meteorologist, the city may experience snowfall ranging between five and 15 cm.

However, she thinks it's a good idea to find out about local road conditions before heading out as the roads are likely to have more slush on account of melted snow during the day and may turn treacherous at night.

"In the spring, when we get snowfall events like this, the highest risk time for an overnight freeze would be kind of in those early morning hours if you're traveling," she said.

Not out of the ordinary

A woman walks in snowy Calgary Thursday afternoon. Plows will be out on main roads this weekend.
A woman walks in snowy Calgary Thursday afternoon. Plows will be out on main roads this weekend.

A cold wave swept across Calgary last month bringing plenty of snow. (Ose Irete/CBC)

The meteorologist doesn't expect this cold snap to be as drastic as the one Calgarians endured last month.

"You know, comparing this event to maybe the one we had just after St. Patrick's Day, when St. Patrick's Day was 18 degrees and then two days later it snowed.… It doesn't look like it's gonna be as intense as that system was."

Pederson pointed out this isn't an uncommon event, particularly in southern Alberta, where it tends to snow heavily in March and April.

"You know, you think you'd think [of] winter, but it's really spring that we get these big snowstorms like this where, you know, it's 18-20 degrees one day and then two days later you have, you know, half a foot of snow. So this does happen," she said.

"It's definitely not time to put away your snow brushes yet, and then just [a] reminder to people to drive [to] the conditions if they do have to head out."