Winter slammed into much of Western Canada over the weekend, with heavy winds and snowfall expected to blanket a wide swath spanning southern Alberta to northern Manitoba.
“We are basically putting everything we have in terms of resources into this storm today, tonight, tomorrow and into the coming days,” Goran Saric, who oversees snow clearing for the city of Saskatoon, told an online news conference on Sunday.
Brad Vrolijk, a lead forecaster with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said “a pretty potent” Colorado low brought a mix of wintry weather across the United States border, noting the system was expected to make itself felt through Monday morning.
He said blizzard conditions in the Kindersley area of western Saskatchewan cut visibility to near zero, while about 10 to 15 centimetres of snow fell just west and northwest of Saskatoon early in the day.
Vrolijk said a second snowfall expected in the afternoon was projected to land between Regina and Saskatoon and then move into northern Manitoba, bringing 30 to 50 cm by the time it tapers off overnight.
By early afternoon, ice and drifting snow had closed Highway 1 from Swift Current, Sask., to the Alberta boundary.
Saskatoon city officials, who are currently working out the logistics for a municipal election Monday in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, said the snow could pose further problems.
“There’s no snow days for elections. The election must continue,” city manager Jeff Jorgenson said at Sunday’s news conference.
“We’re encouraging everyone to make a plan to vote, get out and vote, and roadway crews are going to do everything that they possibly can to keep those polling stations open.”
Environment and Climate Change Canada meteorologist Terry Lang expected another 20 to 30 cm of snow to fall on top of the 10 to 15 that landed in Saskatoon overnight Saturday, adding strong winds would continue through the night and into Monday.
Temperatures were also expected to drop, and wind gusts of up to 80 km/h were forecast for the city.
Pamela Goulden-McLeod, director of emergency management for Saskatoon, also reminded people to reach out to friends, noting there are 362 city residents who are self-isolating due to COVID-19.
Environment Canada said freezing rain will also stretch from southeastern Saskatchewan across western and north-central Manitoba and into northwestern Ontario.
Authorities from Alberta to Manitoba are discouraging non-essential travel.
Snowfall was heavy in Edmonton on Saturday, and police there said there were 125 collisions on icy streets between midnight Friday and 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
Environment Canada said between 20 and 40 cm of snow was expected in southern Alberta, with more expected in some regions of higher terrain.
The agency also warned of strong northerly winds with gusts as high as 60 to 80 km/h that could cause sudden whiteout conditions south of Red Deer and near Highway 2.
The strong winds were expected to diminish in the afternoon, with heavy snow expected to taper off by Monday morning.
Freezing rain was also expected in central Manitoba, while communities further north such as Flin Flon, the Pas and Gillam were slated to see 20 to 35 cm of snow, he added.
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.