Upwards of 70 centimetres of snow possible in Jasper, Banff national parks

Edmonton early morning weather forecast: Friday, January 31, 2020
WATCH ABOVE: Here's Mike Sobel's Friday, Jan. 31, 2020 early morning weather forecast for Edmonton, Alta. and the surrounding area.

Upwards of 70 centimetres of snow could fall in parts of Banff and Jasper national parks this weekend.

A winter storm warning was issued Friday morning for parts of both national parks. Environment Canada said hazardous winter conditions are expected along the Icefields Parkway — Highway 93 — between Jasper and Lake Louise.

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A “long duration heavy snowfall event” is forecast to begin Friday evening and end Saturday evening, according to the national weather agency.

Between 30 to 50 centimetres of snow is expected in the affected areas, with upwards of 70 centimetres possible in some regions, Environment Canada said.

“Strong winds will accompany the snow, which will cause reduced visibility in blowing snow, especially over exposed areas,” the weather warning said Friday.

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Global Edmonton meteorologist Jesse Beyer said while the Jasper townsite itself was not included in the warning as of 4 p.m. Friday, some snow is expected. But not as much as in the higher elevations.

“Much of the precipitation could actually be light snow, with five to 10 millimetres of rain,” Beyer said.

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He added that the main snow threat is in the upper elevations along Highway 93 between Jasper and Banff.

“The great issue is travel through the mountain parks with conditions changing rapidly due to elevation and location and strong winds leading to blowing snow,” Beyer said.

In addition to the winter storm warning, a snowfall warning was also issued for Banff National Park on Friday. Environment Canada said snow was expected to intensify in the Lake Louise area on Friday evening, with 15 to 20 centimetres of snow expected by Saturday evening.

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“Into Banff National Park, close to 20 centimetres is expected,” Beyer said. “The Town of Banff could still see 10 centimetres.”

The Icefields Parkway will be closed in both directions at noon on Friday from just south of Athabasca Falls to Saskatchewan River Crossing, 152 kilometres south of Jasper. The closure is expected to be in place until Sunday evening as crews conduct avalanche control.

The Athabasca Falls viewpoint and winter hub and the Athabasca Falls Hostel will be accessible during the closure.

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Near-zero visibility is possible with the heavy, blowing snow that’s expected this weekend. Drivers are urged to consider postponing non-essential travel.

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Snowfall warnings were also in place Friday for the northernmost parts of Alberta, including High Level, Fort Vermilion and Wood Buffalo National Park. Ten to 15 centimetres of snow is expected in these regions by late Saturday.

For updated road conditions in Alberta, follow 511 Alberta on Twitter or online.

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