Winter is coming: Calgary placed under a snow squall watch Friday

Click to play video: 'Fall snowstorm sweeps across Calgary' Fall snowstorm sweeps across Calgary
A blast of winter blanketed Calgary on Friday, coupled with daytime temperatures dipping below zero. As Lauren Pullen reports, city road crews say they're ready for whatever the storm leaves behind – Oct 16, 2020

UPDATE: The snow squall watch for Calgary mentioned in this story has ended.

Environment Canada issued a snow squall watch for Calgary on Friday as a cold front moves south across southern Alberta.

“Snow squalls cause weather conditions to vary considerably,” the national weather agency said. “Changes from clear skies to heavy snow within just a few kilometres are common.”

Environment Canada said the incoming cold front is expected to produce brief periods of intense snowfall and reduced visibilities throughout the city.

Read more: How Calgary is preparing for snowy and icy winter roads this year

“Snow squalls may develop late this morning and into this afternoon,” Environment Canada said Friday. “The risk for snow squalls will diminish early this evening as the front pushes into Montana.”

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Snow squall watches are also in effect for Airdrie, Cochrane, Olds, Sundre, Brooks, Strathmore, Vulcan, Cardston, Fort Macleod and Magrath.

Meanwhile, Environment Canada issued snowfall and wind warnings for much of southern Alberta. To learn more about the public weather alerts currently in place, visit

Calgary’s weekend weather includes snow and cooler temperatures

“We are in for a doozy of a day,” said Global Calgary weather anchor Jodi Hughes on Friday. “Calgary is expecting some light flurries in the morning, then some mixed precipitation followed by strong wind as an intense cold front moves through — and then we are expecting more snow on top of that.”

The forecast for Friday includes a high of 3 C with temperatures dropping to a low of -9 C in the evening.

Hughes said the snow will taper off overnight and we’ll see a mainly sunny Saturday with a high of – 4 C and a low of -12 C.

Then on Sunday Hughes expects another 1-2 cm of snow with a high of -4 C and a low of -10 C.

Calgary road crews preparing for snow-covered streets

Chris McGeachy with the City of Calgary’s roads department said crews are prepared to clear snow-covered streets over the weekend.

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“As of the start of October, they have moved into their winter operations, which is 24/7 shifts, so we have crews to cover the weekend snowfall,” McGeachy said.

“Crews will be out there applying anti-icing agents to trouble spots such as bridge decks and hills. And then when the snow starts to fall, it’s go-time, and they’ll be focusing on plowing those high-volume roads.”

The city currently follows a seven-day snow clearing plan, which is enacted once the snow stops falling.

Priority 1 roads are the first to be cleared, which includes major roads with more than 20,000 vehicles per day, like Crowchild Trail and Macleod Trail. (Deerfoot Trail and Stoney Trail are maintained by the provincial government.)

Crews then focus on Priority 2 routes — roads that carry 5,000 to 19,999 vehicles a day — like Kensington Road and Acadia Drive.

After that, crews turn to clearing Priority 3 and Priority 4 routes, which include residential areas and school and playground zones.


The City of Calgary has a snow-removal budget of just under $40 million between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31.

Earlier this month, spokesperson Chris Hewitt, said they have only used about $25 million so far this year, and have about $15 million left to get them through 2020.

“We don’t anticipate any problems coming in at or under budget,” Hewitt said.

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Learn more about snow-route parking bans

The City of Calgary can put a snow-route parking ban in place to help crews clear streets.The parking bans are declared on the city’s snow routes when Calgary has seen a significant accumulation of snow.
A snow route parking ban sign is shown. Global News / Tim Lee
Snow routes are indicated by blue signs with a white snowflake symbol. Any vehicles left on snow routes during the ban can be ticketed or towed.
Once called, snow-route parking bans can be in place for up to 72 hours. On-street accessible parking is exempt from snow-route parking bans.

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