Blowing snow, poor roads as 15-40 cm snowfall set to blanket central and western Alberta

Central and southern Alberta are set to be hit with a big dump of extended snowfall Thursday, after morning snow led to poor road conditions across large sections of the province.

Poor road conditions

Blowing snow led to reduced visibility on many highways in central Alberta, RCMP said Thursday morning when warning drivers about the poor road conditions.

Several collisions were reported in central Alberta Thursday morning, RCMP said, and police are asking motorists to slow down and drive to the conditions.

Leduc RCMP also warned of icy roads, blowing snow and reduced visibility in their area Thursday morning.

Weather warnings

The traffic warnings came as winter storm watches and warnings were in place for much of southern and western Alberta Thursday.

A long duration of heavy snow is expected to begin in the afternoon along the Rocky Mountain foothills, Environment Canada said.

By Saturday evening, total snowfall accumulations may approach 40 centimetres, especially over regions in southwestern Alberta, the weather agency warned.

A snowfall warning initially in effect for the western parts of Clearwater and Yellowhead counties, including Nordegg, was later expanded to include Calgary and Banff, as well as south towards Okotoks, High River and Claresholm. The winter storm warnings also included the Kananaskis, Bragg Creek and Canmore areas.

On Friday, the storm system will intensify further over Montana, bringing more snow in strong upslope flow to the warned regions, Environment Canada explained.

The city of Calgary could see between 15 and 25 centimetres total before the weather system pushes east Saturday evening.

The warnings will likely be expanded later Thursday to cover other regions under the winter storm watches as the development of the storm system becomes more clear, the weather agency said.

Winter storm watches + cold temperatures

As of Thursday morning, winter storm watches were also in place for much of southern and southeastern Alberta, including Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.

Environment Canada said there was some uncertainty as to how far south the storm system would develop.

Hazardous winter weather conditions were expected starting late Thursday afternoon, Environment Canada said.

Unseasonably cold temperatures will settle in over the province beginning Friday and it is expected to remain much colder than normal until early next week.

Environment Canada warned of quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions. Reduced visibility due to heavy, blowing snow is expected to last through Saturday for some areas.

For a complete list of areas in Alberta under a weather alert, click here.

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— With files from Caley Ramsay, Global News

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