Central Albertans will get a bracing preview of winter on Friday, with snow, high winds and a sharp temperature drop creating slippery road conditions.
Environment Canada meteorologist Sara Hoffman predicted Red Deer-area residents “will be in for a shock” as temperatures fall to a high of zero — which is 11 degrees below normal.
September and early October averaged two degrees above normal, so “we’re in for a steep swing — and it will feel extra shocking because we’ve been so spoiled,” she added.
As warm and moist Pacific air collides with a high-pressure ridge from the Arctic, snow is expected to start falling overnight in the foothills and lower terrain east of the Rockies.
By Friday afternoon, 5 to 10 cms will blanket fallen leaves on people’s lawns and any still-not-put-away garden implements. The snowfall is expected to continue into Friday night, with a low of -11 C.
Hoffman said communities west of Red Deer will get more snow than those to the east.
She cautioned roads will be slippery and motorists should slow down for the conditions.
Environment Canada issued a special weather statement about the Red Deer region possibly receiving north winds gusting up to 50 km/h by late morning. The wind chill is expected to reduce daytime temperatures to -8 C.
City of Red Deer roads crews are prepared for the wintry onslaught.
“We are not surprised… last year we had three or four snowfalls events by this time,”said roads superintendent Doug Halldorson. “We’ve got the sanders ready to go, we’re putting our plow blades on today, and our sanding tent is full — so were ready.”
The first sanding trucks and plows will be sent to hills and bridges as the trigger for these is 5 cms of snow. Eight centimetres is the trigger for plowing main routes, including Ross and 32nd Streets, and Gaetz, and 30th and 40th Avenues.
Halldorson said 10 out of 17 city trucks have so far been winterized to deal with snow and ice. The other trucks still needed to finish some summer/fall roadwork projects, such as grading alleyways.
He hopes next week’s above-zero temperatures will allow for these projects to be wrapped up before winter fully descends.
Friday’s snowfall is not expected to stay for the long-term — Hoffman said the ground is still warm enough that the snow will gradually melt.
Next week’s highs are predicted to be about 5 C, which is still about five degrees below average for this time of year.