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Heavy snow on the way for western, central Alberta; travellers being warned

WATCH: Areas of western Alberta could see between 10 and 20 centimetres of snow, as snowfalls warnings were issued Thursday. Edmonton could see about five centimetres of snow. Meteorologist Jesse Beyer has a look at the warnings in place.

Heavy snowfall is expected for Thursday and Friday in western and central Alberta.

Environment Canada issued snowfall warnings late Thursday morning for several regions, including Grande Prairie and Valleyview. The warnings were expanded early Thursday afternoon to include Spruce Grove and Red Deer.

“Snow has begun near the B.C. border and will spread southeastward through the day,” the weather agency warned.

Global Edmonton meteorologist Jesse Beyer said parts of western Alberta could see between 10 and 15 centimetres of snow, but some areas could see more than 20 centimetres by the end of Friday.

“Snowfall is expected to begin Thursday and last into Friday morning for most areas,” Beyer said. “The collision of cold and dry Arctic air and warm and moist Pacific air will set up conditions to produce 10-20 centimetres of accumulations in western Alberta.

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“Many snow enthusiasts waiting for ski hills to open will be thrilled, but travel in those areas will be hindered by the weather.”

Beyer said Edmonton could see up to five centimetres of snow.

“The city of Edmonton will not escape the snowfall. Expect wind gusts between 30-50 km/h tonight with up to five centimetres by Friday morning. The morning commute may be affected by this system in our city.”

The Alberta government sent a news release Thursday, warning that Grande Prairie, Rocky Mountain House, Hinton, Whitecourt and areas in between are expected to receive up to 20 centimetres of snow over a 24-hour period.

“Drivers in affected parts of the province should consider postponing any unnecessary highway travel,” the province said.

Alberta Transportation and highway maintenance contractors are mobilizing resources to maintain highways in safe winter driving conditions.

“Nevertheless, drivers are reminded to prepare for winter conditions, including reduced visibility and slippery road surfaces and adjust their driving habits accordingly.”

Environment Canada also issued wind warnings for parts of southern Alberta, including Airdrie, Drumheller and Okotoks, Thursday afternoon.

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“This cold front will bring a sharp temperature drop along with snow and very strong wind,” the agency said. “The wind will increase to 50 gusting 70 km/h shortly after midnight, however, at times gusts could be as strong as 90 km/h.”

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