Winter is setting its sights on southern Manitoba after blowing through Alberta and Saskatchewan this week.

A storm system that developed over the U.S. Rockies is expected to plow into parts of the province Friday evening and Saturday, leaving behind 10 to 20 centimetres of snow.

A snowfall warning is in effect for most of southern Manitoba, including the city of Winnipeg, where the snow will start falling on Friday night.

The most significant snowfall is expected to come on Saturday, accompanied by strong northeast winds.

"There remains some uncertainty about the track and intensity of this storm system, but at this point it appears the heaviest snow with this event will fall mainly along and south of the Trans-Canada corridor," according to a special weather statement from Environment Canada.

The same storm system pounded parts of Alberta on Wednesday, with as much as 25 centimetres of snow and began shouldering its way through Saskatchewan on Thursday, where it is forecast to dump 15 centimetres.

The storm created dangerous driving conditions in Edmonton, leaving one person dead and dozens others injured in collisions.

Blowing snow Thursday in Saskatchewan is causing similar conditions.

Winnipeg is in the northern edge of the system but will likely see about 10 centimetres of snow, says CBC News meteorologist John Sauder.

Although the city has had the occasional dusting of snow this fall already, Sauder warns that this time it'll be different.

"This snow isn't going to melt. It'll stick around until spring," he said, adding that cold daytime temperatures are also on the way, getting up to only –6 C on Sunday and –9 C on Monday.

Sauder said strong winds mean people can expect to see blowing snow.

"This keeps going on Saturday night and through Sunday, and it will make it tough for outdoor ceremonies for Remembrance Day," he said.

Winter ready

In preparation for the snow, CAA Manitoba is reminding motorists to adjust their driving habits, and equip their vehicles with winter tires and an emergency roadside kit.

"Each year when the first big snowfall comes, drivers are caught off guard," said Liz Peters, a CAA Manitoba spokesperson.

"The best thing drivers can do to be safe in bad driving conditions is to take their foot off the gas and double the distance between their vehicle and the one in front of them."

While a lot of people keep their all-season tires on their vehicles, nothing compares to winter tires, she said.

"Regular all-season tires are the same hardness as a hockey puck when the temperature drops below freezing," Peters said.

"Winter tires are made of special rubber compounds that improve stopping time not only ice and snow but also cold, dry, wet or slushy driving conditions."

Peters said to look for the snowflake-on-the-mountain symbol when shopping for winter tires. Only tires carrying this mark are specifically designed to meet snow traction requirements.

Other simple ways to prepare your vehicle for winter include:

  • Check your block heater and inspect all cords to ensure they are not damaged or frayed.
  • Test your battery to make sure it is operating at optimal performance.
  • Make sure all fluid levels are adequate, and the right ones for the temperature.
  • Replace your windshield wipers if they are not in good working condition.
  • Make sure the heater and defroster are working correctly, and check the thermostat.
  • Equip your vehicle with a stocked emergency roadside kit, customized to suit your family.

"An emergency kit is the most important thing you can have in your car throughout the year, but especially in the winter months," Peters said.

"A flashlight, food and waterproof matches are just a few of the essentials that are important to always have in your kit."

Rural school officials concerned

Meanwhile, some rural school officials say they're worried highways may not be as safe as they should be after this weekend's snowfall.

The provincial government recently announced that it will eliminate overnight and weekend road patrols on major highways this winter, in an effort to save money.

Ray Fast, head of transportation with the Hanover School Division in and around Steinbach, Man., says he fears the cuts could make it difficult to get timely road condition updates.

"Essentially having a loaded school bus travelling down a highway that has not been maintained on time, or even properly, is a big concern," he said.

Fast said he believes the road patrol cuts could force schools to declare more snow days, rather than risk transporting students on potentially unsafe roads.