A break in the arctic cold will continue through the weekend before bitter cold, wind, and snow return to western Canada Monday and Tuesday. Very cold weather looks to be in the cards for much of the early part of December.
A weather pattern that is favorable for the development of arctic air across western and northwestern Canada looks to be in place during the next few weeks. A strong ridge of high pressure at upper levels across Alaska will help induce a strong surface high pressure area across Alaska and western Canada.
High pressure at the surface over a well-established snow cover during the winter season is a recipe for very cold temperatures. These conditions help any warmth to escape to space creating a large pool of arctic air. Since the amount of nighttime far outweighs daytime and the sun angle is very low in the sky at this time of year, temperatures can plummet to extreme levels.
Temperatures across some portions of northern Alberta fell to as low as -38C or -36F last weekend and it appears the new arctic air mass scheduled for the early and middle of next week may be even colder. Temperatures Tuesday and Wednesday of next week are expected to remain below 0F (-18C) across the region with nighttime readings falling into the -20s and -30s F (-30 to -40C).
The cold temperatures are not the only problem coming along. There are currently indications that a sizable storm will push through the area Monday into early Tuesday to introduce the next cold air siege. This storm has potential to produce fairly widespread blizzard conditions with strong winds, blowing snow, and falling temperatures making travel very slow or possibly nearly impossible for some areas. A moderate to heavy snowfall is expected with this storm as it tracks right along the southern border of the Prairies to near southern Lake Winnipeg by Tuesday morning.
Longer range models continue to imply a very cold December for western and central Canada with arctic air in control much of the time. To go along with the cold, the computer output also keeps precipitation amounts at above normal levels, which means more snow is in the future for the region.
Doug Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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