Winter is coming.

That's the message — literally — from Environment Canada to Albertans ahead of the weekend, when an Arctic air mass is expected to pummel the last remnants of autumn into wintry submission.

"Winter arrives this weekend," the agency said in its special weather statements.

According to meteorologists with the weather agency, a Pacific weather system will collide with a cold dome of Arctic air to bring significant snow, a risk of freezing rain and the end of patio season to southern Alberta.

A deep freeze is expected to follow.

Weather alerts

Much of Alberta is under special weather statements or freezing rain/snowfall warnings as an Arctic air mass prepares to plummet the region. (Environment Canada)

Snow has already started falling in Grande Prairie and Edmonton, with accumulations of about 10 centimetres.

The northwestern Foothills are expected to see 20 to 25 centimetres, while central and southern parts of Alberta should see between five and 15 centimetres.

Areas from Red Deer to Lethbridge could see freezing rain Saturday evening and into early Sunday morning. 

Calgary could also see freezing rain overnight.

The cold Arctic front will move in behind the snow, causing temperatures to plummet through the day Sunday.

By Monday, temperatures will drop to –18 C with the wind chill making it feel closer to –25 C in much of southern Alberta.

There are 17 special weather statements issued in total, four freezing rain warnings and eight snowfall warnings in effect.

To see all of the communities affected in more detail, click here.