Much of southwestern Saskatchewan took the brunt of an early spring storm Tuesday after a low pressure system brought strong winds, wet snow and rain.
Snow started falling overnight before northwesterly winds picked up, causing whiteout conditions during Tuesday’s morning drive.
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has issued a wind warning for the southwest corner of the province, indicating that northwesterly winds could blow up to 90 km/h throughout the day.
“High winds can throw loose objects or cause tree branches to snap,” the alert reads.
Terri Lang, a warning preparedness meteorologist at ECCC, said forest weather stations in the west block of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park and Climax reported gusts of around 100 km/h on Tuesday morning. She said many ECCC weather stations have been taken offline due to power issues.
Snowfall of five to 15 centimeters is possible, with the heaviest amounts falling in the Cypress Hills area. Rains of five to 10 millimeters are also possible in the region.
Lang said places with higher elevations, like the Cypress Hills, often get more snow. This time around, the northwest winds also created an “upflow” – the winds forced a high surface – which increased the amount of snowfall.
The Trans-Canada Highway was also closed for a time from the Alberta border north of Maple Creek mid-morning Tuesday, as motorists reported poor conditions on most roads in the area.
Moody weather is forecast for southwestern areas of the province tonight and Tuesday. Very strong winds, wet snow and lots of rain are expected.
Blackouts cause water supply problems
SaskPower has reported numerous outages caused by knocked down lines. Power was restored to some locations Tuesday afternoon, but it was still out at many others, including Maple Creek and Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park.
An outage at the Maple Creek water treatment plant prompted the city to ask residents to conserve their water usage. An alert issued by the city around 11:00 a.m. CST on Tuesday said the repair could take at least 24 hours.
“Without electricity, the treatment plant is unable to treat water to maintain supply,” the message read.
Residents were asked to avoid using “unnecessary large amounts of water”, such as water for dishwashers, showers and laundry.
“Things are actually totally white here”
Irene Ahner farms northeast of Maple Creek. His home lost power between 2:30 a.m. and 3 a.m. CST on Tuesday and was running on generator power. She said visibility on her farm fell to less than a mile on Tuesday morning.
“Things are actually totally white here,” Ahner said.
She said when she went to bed Monday night there was no snow on the ground.
“After supper last night there was a massive dust storm,” she said.
Ahner said the area has received some snowfall this winter, but it won’t last long.
“Over the past two weeks, any little piles of snow that were in the trees or on the northern slopes are all gone and it’s getting warmer and warmer,” she said.
The storm is expected to subside on Wednesday
Lang said the system is expected to run out of steam Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The Swift Current area is expected to receive most of its moisture later Tuesday, but areas like Moose Jaw and Regina will be mostly spared.
Things will calm down until Wednesday, Lang said.
“The flow [in the jet stream] gets a little more westerly,” she said. “It brings more stable air, more seasonal air.”
Lang said another system traveling along the province’s northern border could bring showers and wind to parts over the weekend, but the rest of the work week should be calmer.