January 30, 2019 8:08 pm
Updated: February 1, 2019 8:20 pm

Snowfall and winter storm warnings for Edmonton, central Alberta

WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton has plunged into a deep freeze with bitter daytime highs and overnight lows dipping to levels we haven't seen much this winter. Fletcher Kent reports.

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Albertans should brace themselves as a winter wallop is on the way to the north-central part of the province.

The news will shock those Albertans who’ve been basking in mild temperatures for the past two days while much of the rest of Canada has been freezing.

READ MORE: Canadian prairies colder than North Pole, almost as cold as Mars

Snowfall warning


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A snowfall warning was issued Thursday morning for a stretch of Alberta, from the B.C. border in the west to Saskatchewan in the east, and stretching from the Slave Lake and Grande Prairie regions in the north, down to the Rocky Mountain House area in central Alberta.

The warning includes the city of Edmonton.

READ MORE: Canada’s extreme weather could be the new norm, governments should start preparing

Environment Canada said a slow-moving frontal system will spread heavy snow from west to east starting Thursday morning.

The long duration snowstorm is expected to leave behind between 15 and 30 cm of snow by Saturday afternoon.

Winter storm warning to the west

The snowfall warning comes after Environment Canada issued a winter storm warning for areas around Whitecourt, Edson, Hinton, Fox Creek, Swan Hills and Grande Cache.

Those parts of northwestern Alberta could see 30 to 40 cm of snow by Saturday afternoon, while Hinton and Grande Cache could receive more than 50 cm.

Environment Canada issues snowfall warnings when 10 cm or more of snow is expected within a 12-hour period, and issues winter storm warnings when a major snowfall of 25 cm or more is expected within a 24-hour period.

A hazardous road conditions advisory was issued via the Alberta Emergency Alert system on Thursday for Yellowhead County. Highway 16 runs through the county from Entwistle to the Jasper National Park gates.

The alert said roads have become extremely hazardous in parts of the county, and emergency crews were responding to several vehicle incidents. Anyone who needs to drive was advised to go slow, be careful, and carry emergency supplies.

Temperature drop prompts reminder to plug in vehicle

While the snow falls, so too will the temperature. It’s set to drop to the mid -20s through the weekend and into next week.

WATCH BELOW: Here’s Phil Darlington’s Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019 early morning forecast with a look at how the temperature will plummet through the weekend.

On Thursday, the Alberta Motor Association issued an urgent reminder to motorists to plug in their vehicles.

“In extreme cold, calls about dead batteries spike more than any other roadside service, often representing more than 40 per cent of requests — versus 26 per cent on a normal winter day,” AMA said in a news release.

AMA said the main issue is about 72 per cent of Albertans don’t plug in their vehicle at the recommended temperature of -15 C.

READ MORE: Your car can be affected by the cold just as much as you can

AMA conducted an online survey of 2,304 Albertans back in October, and found 29 per cent of people said they wait until -20 C, 11 per cent until -25 C, five per cent until -30 C — and 27 per cent said they never plug in.

“When it hits -15 C in Alberta, plugging in can mean the difference between an engine that starts and one that doesn’t,” AMA Fleet Services manager Ryan Lemont said.

AMA said the survey found one in three people who don’t plug in said it’s because their vehicle never has a problem starting in cold weather, while 10 per cent said it’s because they have a newer vehicle.

“Many people assume that newer vehicles don’t need the extra help, but frigid temperatures are incredibly hard on an engine if the block heater hasn’t been plugged-in.”

READ MORE: 6 cold weather myths you should not believe

The whole idea of plugging in your block heater is to keep the oil from getting very, very thick, explained Mark Woods at Tony’s Academy Auto Service in Winnipeg, where this week temperatures plummeted below -30 C.

“When it’s cold, [oil] gets almost like molasses and trying to turn an engine over is very hard. It’s hard on the engine, the battery and plugging it in helps tremendously.”

WATCH BELOW: When was the last time you checked to see if your block heater was working properly? Here’s Tony Tighe with one man’s warning on why you should check the electrical cord before plugging in.

Drive safe

Environment Canada warned drivers to take weather conditions into account when travelling.

“Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become difficult to navigate due to accumulating snow,” Environment Canada said. “Visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow.”

WATCH BELOW: (From Oct. 3, 2018) The Alberta Motor Association provides tips on being prepared for winter-driving emergencies

For a complete list of weather warnings, watches and advisories in Alberta, click here. To report severe weather, send an email to ABstorm@canada.ca or tweet reports using #ABStorm.

Want your weather on the go? Download Global News’ Skytracker weather app for iPhone, iPad and Android.

— With files from Amber McGuckin, Global News

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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