Ag Weather Forum

Major Changes Are on the Doorstep

Joel Burgio
By  Joel Burgio , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
Forecast snowfall from Sept. 27 to Sept. 30. (DTN Weather Graphic)

A turn towards much colder weather is expected during the next day or two and eventually expand to include the entire region later this weekend and early next week. This will occur in two phases. The first will occur during the next 24 to 48 hours. A fast-moving low will spread light to moderate precipitation, mostly rain, across the southern areas Thursday and Thursday night. A cold high-pressure system will move southward behind this low, setting the stage for the second phase.

A second low is likely to form over the U.S. Rockies during Saturday and this low intensifies as it tracks northeast through the northeast U.S. Plains and either through Manitoba or into Ontario, depending on the model.

This track suggests a major precipitation and wind event for the Northern Plains of the U.S. and the southern and eastern areas of the Canadian Prairies. This will include heavy snow and heavy rain in the Canadian Prairies along with strong winds.

The included graphic shows the expected snowfall during the period Friday through Monday; most of this precipitation will occur Sunday into Monday. The following is my take on the day-by-day breakdown of this period as it concerns key growing areas.


Thursday through Saturday: Light to locally moderate precipitation, 0.10-0.50 inch, heavier south-central and southeast areas, Thursday or during Thursday night. Mostly dry Friday. Mostly dry during the daytime hours Saturday, light precipitation near the U.S. border Saturday night. Temperatures average below normal through west and central areas and near normal in the east on Thursday, well below normal west and below normal east Friday and Saturday. The coldest low temperatures through Saturday morning are likely to be in the low or middle 20s through north and central Alberta and northwest Saskatchewan; upper 20s to low 30s in southeast Alberta, south and east Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Sunday through Tuesday: Snow or rain changing to snow through southwest and central areas Sunday into Monday; rain or showers and thunderstorms through the east during this time. Precipitation to average 0.50-1.50 inches through southernmost areas of Alberta, southern and central areas of Saskatchewan and through the main growing areas of Manitoba. Snowfall of 6-12 inches (15-30cm) and locally heavier in the southernmost areas of Alberta, southwest and central areas of Saskatchewan. Cities that might see a foot (30 cm) or more of snow include Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, Alberta; Swift Current and Regina, Saskatchewan. Strong winds are also expected during this period, especially in the areas indicated with heavy snow. The further to the north you go in Alberta the drier it will be and the risk for heavy snow drops off rapidly. The further to the east you go in Saskatchewan to Manitoba the warmer it will be and these areas will see more rain than snow. Temperatures average well below normal in western and central areas during this period; below normal east. Low temperatures in the 20s and teens F (-8 to -4C) through Alberta may also move into west and central Saskatchewan. Upper 20s to low 30s F (-3 to 0 C) in eastern Saskatchewan and Manitoba later in the period.

7-10 Day Outlook: Temperatures are expected to average well below normal during this period. Precipitation should average near to below normal.

This is likely to be a major event with considerable impact on crops and livestock, as well as to travel and transport. There are some questions as to exactly where the most severe conditions will occur. A lot will depend on the track of the secondary storm system and this has not yet formed. Nevertheless, a dramatic turn of events for the region, which is still trying to harvest crops and still has some crops not yet safe from freeze damage. The period beyond the storm looks quieter, although fairly cold, for a while. I wouldn't be surprised to see additional precipitation for the region somewhere down the road, as the mean trough remains in place over western North America. However, the colder weather relative to normal might be what we will see later this weekend and next week. Please stay tuned to the latest developments on this most dangerous system.

Joel Burgio can be reached at



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