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Freezing rain, wind, snowfall warnings issued after weeks of mild weather in Alberta

Click to play video 'High winds cause semi truck to tip over in southern Alberta' High winds cause semi truck to tip over in southern Alberta
Video recorded Tuesday by The Weather Network's Kyle Brittain shows a semi truck on Highway 2 tipping over due to high crosswinds near Granum in southern Alberta, where wind warnings were in effect – Jan 12, 2021

Much of Alberta has basked in unseasonably warm weather and clear skies for several weeks now, but that’s about to change for much of the province.

Winter storm, snowfall, freezing rain and wind warnings have been issued for several areas, which Global Edmonton meteorologist Jesse Beyer said is due to a substantial change in pressure.

“An area of low pressure will bring a wintery mix of precipitation and notable totals of snowfall to our area Wednesday,” Beyer said.

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Snowfall warning

Snowfall warnings were issued Tuesday for the mountain parks, as well as parts of western and north-central Alberta. Environment Canada also issued freezing rain warnings for the Edmonton region and surrounding counties.

Read more: Snowfall, winter storm warnings issued for mountain highways for B.C.’s Southern Interior

A system moving into central Alberta will spread snow starting late Tuesday evening, Environment Canada said.

In the mountains, about 15 to 20 centimetres of snow is expected to fall on Jasper and Highway 93 all the way to Lake Louise and Banff. Also included in the snowfall warning are the Hinton, Grande Cache, Whitecourt, Edson, Fox Creek and Swan Hills regions.

Winter storm warning

Further east, the alerts turn to winter storm warnings in and around Westlock, Barrhead, Athabasca, Bonnyville, St. Paul, Cold Lake, and Lac La Biche.

Those warnings stretch beyond into Saskatchewan, where hazardous winter conditions are expected through Wednesday.

Read more: Blustery Wednesday forecast for southern Saskatchewan

Environment Canada said the system will spread heavy snow and, at times, freezing rain beginning overnight. As the system intensifies, gusty winds will also generate blowing snow at times.

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The precipitation will gradually ease by early Wednesday evening, but snowfall accumulations between 10 and 20 centimetres is expected.

Beyer said in central Alberta the highest totals are expected to be north of Edmonton and could total up to 15 centimetres.

Click to play video 'Edmonton weather forecast: Tuesday, January 12, 2021' Edmonton weather forecast: Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Edmonton weather forecast: Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Freezing rain warning

Freezing rain warnings are in effect for the City of Edmonton and surrounding regions, including Spruce Grove, Evansburg, Mayerthorpe, Fort Saskatchewan, Vegreville and Redwater, Leduc, Camrose, Wetaskiwin and Tofield.

Those areas are also expected to receive snow as the temperature dips.

“On the initial frontal passage, our surface temperature will likely be below zero in Edmonton, while the mid- and upper layers of the atmosphere could still support liquid precipitation,” Beyer explained.

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“This is the reason for the freezing rain warning in Edmonton.”

“After that, it should change to snow, which could total near 5 centimetres in Edmonton,” he added, adding there are a few indicators that could bump the amount up to as much as 10 centimetres.

Read more: Heading into a La Niña winter, what does that mean for Alberta?

Wind warning

At the same time, there are wind warnings in effect for all of southern Alberta, stretching up along the foothills and the eastern side of the province.

“A substantial change in pressure is expected to occur, and this will lead to wind gusts near 100km/h in parts of east-central Alberta for Wednesday,” Beyer said.

Environment Canada added there could be localized gusts up to 120 km/h along the foothills, and the wind will taper off by Wednesday evening as the system moves east.

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For a complete list of areas in Alberta under a weather alert, click here.

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