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Possible snow in Banff, Jasper national parks prompts special weather statements

Areas under Environment Canada's special weather statements include parts of Jasper National Park, Banff National Park and the Kananaskis — Canmore region. Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press

Special weather statements have been issued for parts of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, warning of potential snowfall.

Areas under the warnings including Jasper National Park, Banff National Park and the Kananaskis — Canmore region.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, snow is expected over higher elevations this weekend.

“Precipitation will begin today and continue through Sunday,” a weather alert reads, adding people should prepare for rapidly changing and deteriorating conditions.

“Rain is expected at valley bottom while higher elevations will likely see accumulating snow. The snow will be heavy and wet, so amounts will vary widely, but five to 15 cm are possible by Sunday night.”

Meteorologist Eric Van Lochem told Global News snowfall isn’t uncommon around this time of year.

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“Last year at roughly this time, we had another system quite a bit stronger than this one, but very similar in nature, where we got really heavy rainfall that fell to the west of Edmonton and into the foothills,” he said.

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“It was cold enough that there was heavy snowfall in parts of the mountain parks and immediate foothills in the Hinton area. I believe that was the event where Maligne Lake picked up just shy of 60 cm of snow in 24 hours.”

Depending on the elevation, Van Lochem said some areas may experience more rainfall than snow.

Areas near Highway 93, around the townsites of Banff and Jasper, are expected to see more rain. Regions of higher elevation, like Bow Summit or the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre, could see five cm of snow.

Backcountry regions can expect upwards of 15 cm.

The weather system, which came off the B.C. coast and is arching through Washington state, will produce two waves of precipitation.

“The first one should be in early to the middle part of the evening before midnight and that will be associated with this initial push where Calgary will get some thunderstorms,” Van Lochem said.

“There’ll be rain breaking out over the Highway 2 corridor between Edmonton and Calgary and that’ll bring that first wave of snow through parts of the Mountain Parks early tonight and then there’ll be a bit of a break.”

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He said the next wave would arrive tomorrow, bringing more snow to parts of the mountain parks, before developing a low-pressure system in the Calgary area that’ll push into Saskatchewan on Sunday.

“And then the rain over northern Alberta is like remnants from an earlier system, but then, as we get cold air sweeping in behind, it basically pushes all of that (precipitation) over northern Alberta towards the south,” said Van Lochem.

“So that kind of explains the one-two punch.”

Click to play video: 'Severe summer weather sweeps across Alberta'
Severe summer weather sweeps across Alberta

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