Intense cold front with snow squalls headed for Alberta, Environment Canada warns

Most of the southern part of Alberta is in store for an intense bout of winter weather later today as a cold front from British Columbia descends on the province.

Low pressure system expected to bring strong west winds

Ten to 15 centimetres of snow is likely to fall by Friday afternoon across much of south-central Alberta, Environment Canada warns. (Environment Canada)

Most of the southern part of Alberta is in store for an intense bout of winter weather later today as a cold front from British Columbia descends on the province. 

Up to 15 centimetres of snow is expected to fall by Friday afternoon in the mountain parks in higher elevations and up to 10 centimetres in many other parts of the province, Environment Canada warns.

But Calgary is expected to get off relatively easy with just two centimetres in the forecast.

Snowfall warnings are in effect for Kananaskis, Canmore, Banff, Jasper, Crowsnest Pass, Hinton, Grand Cache and Grande Prairie.

Winter has already arrived at Sunshine Mountain Lodge as this shot from the resort's web cam shows on Oct. 16. (Sunshine Mountain Lodge)

Kyle Brittain, the Calgary bureau chief for the Weather Network, told the Calgary Eyeopener on Friday morning that drivers should be careful navigating highways, mountain corridors and roads throughout western Alberta.

"Already, we've got snow falling across much of western Alberta right now, so that's … starting to get some accumulation on the road surfaces," Brittain said. "[It's] certainly not going to be the greatest for winter driving conditions."

Calgary snow squalls

Calgary should expect a gust of wintry weather that will mark an abrupt change from the warmer temperatures that persisted this fall, Brittain said.

"It's really going to transform the landscape — a big blast of wind … is probably going to knock off a lot of that remaining fall foliage, and replace it with a swath of white and some very cold temperatures," Brittain said.

Environment Canada has issued snow squall watches for Calgary and areas to the north and east of the city.

According to Environment Canada's alert, snow squalls cause weather conditions to vary considerably, and Brittain said the city could pick up about five centimetres of snow.

"[Snow squalls] could be associated with a cold front where we see just a rapid blast of heavy snow, reduced visibility all of a sudden, so we're expecting that to occur … mid-afternoon, late afternoon," Brittain said.

According to Environment Canada, the risk of snow squalls will diminish on Friday evening as the cold front moves southward into Montana.

Wind warnings

Wind warnings have been issued for several areas in southern Alberta, from Brooks down to the U.S. border and from Cardston to the Saskatchewan boundary. 

In the Cardston-Fort Macleod-Magrath area, westerly wind gusts as strong as 110 km/h are expected to develop Friday morning, switching to northerly gusts later in the day.

"Damage to buildings, such as to roof shingles and windows, may occur. High winds may toss loose objects or cause tree branches to break," Enviornment Canada said.

Winterizing your vehicle

As the weather turns frigid, Brandon Klassen, supervisor of automotive services with the Alberta Motor Association (AMA), told CBC News that winterizing a vehicle should go beyond changing the tires.

He said that 25 per cent of roadside assistance calls in the winter are related to dead batteries.

Klassen said early signs that battery life is waning include dimming headlights and slower starts, while more serious indicators are frequently needing a boost — or the car not starting at all in cold weather.

"It's so important, if your battery is more than three years old, to think about getting it tested, and start looking for those early signs that you may need a new battery," Klassen said.

Klassen suggested drivers also talk to their mechanic about the best oil for their vehicles.

Though synthetic oil isn't the best option for all cars on the road, it can make a difference for some.

"A lot of people don't realize that switching to synthetic oil in the wintertime can make a huge difference when those temperatures start to drop," Klassen said. 

"Synthetic oil doesn't thicken like conventional oil, and it allows it to flow better and reduce engine wear."

The AMA is hosting a free battery testing event for its members at all its locations until 6 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.


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