Provincial officials are keeping an eye on the track of a Colorado Low as it moves toward southern Manitoba.
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, by Friday morning widespread snowfall accumulations of 30 to 50 cm are expected with accumulations as high as 80 cm possible along terrain features such as the western escarpment of the Red River Valley, the Riding Mountains, and the Turtle Mountains.
The national forecaster advises that travel will become increasingly difficult as the day progresses Wednesday, with widespread highway closures a near certainty. By Wednesday evening even travel within communities may become impossible as the heavy snow and strong winds continue and more of the same is expected on Thursday.
A Winter Storm Watch has been issued.
“Do not plan to travel - this storm has the potential to be the worst blizzard in decades. Stock up on needed supplies and medications now. Power outages are likely, rural areas in particular should be prepared for extended outages.”
Conditions should begin to improve on Friday as the winds taper off and the heaviest snow moves into northern Ontario although the clean-up after this storm will likely last well into next week.
Public Safety Canada encourages everyone to make an emergency plan and get an emergency kit with drinking water, food, medicine, a first-aid kit and a flashlight. For information on emergency plans and kits go to http://www.getprepared.gc.ca.
Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure Minister, Doyle Piwnuik, says this amount of moisture at this point in the spring season is concerning.
"But what looks like in the future forecast into next week, is that the temperature is supposed to be below zero from Wednesday all the way to the following week. This is actually ideal for a slow melt," he adds.
In fact, Dr. Fisaha Anduche, director of Manitoba's Hydrologic Forecast Centre, doesn't expect snow from this storm to melt until around April 20th.
"So, that gives us good time...by the time the snow melt comes later in April, most of the flows we see on the Red will have started to drop down...and so the rivers will have more capacity," Dr. Anduche explains.