The first round of Old Man Winter’s return to southern Manitoba has come as advertised and forecasters are stressing this is just the first round.

Winter Storm Warnings remain in effect for a large section of the region now extending from the Steinbach and Vita region westward through the Red River and Pembina Valleys to approximately the Highway 10 area south of Brandon, down to the U.S. Border.

Communities within the Warning area include Killarney, Pilot Mound, Manitou, Carman, Morden, Winkler, Altona and Morris. The City of Winnipeg has also been added to the Warning area.

“Early indications are 5 to 10+ centimetres of snow has fallen so far across the Western Red River Valley and Pembina Valley regions,” says CMOS Accredited Weathercaster Chris Sumner. “Those regions can expect to see another 5 to 10 centimetres Thursday night as another round of heavy, wet snow swings through the region.”

Even more snowfall is on the way for Friday, potentially more than twice as much as has fallen so far. Environment Canada is forecasting an additional 30 to 45 centimetres is possible Friday through Saturday morning, indicating snowfall rates will intensify throughout the day Friday.

“The snowfall totals will certainly be record breakers for many regions currently within the Winter Storm Warnings, but the snow is really only going to be a part of the story Friday,” explained Sumner. “The already gusty northerly winds we saw today peak around 60 km/h are expected to strengthen further, with gusts up to 80 km/h, and possibly even higher.”

Sumner says the combination of very strong winds and heavy snowfall will more than likely lead to Blizzard Warnings being issued at some point Friday. The criteria that would need to be met for those to be issued is sustained winds of 40 km/h or more, reducing visibility to 400 meters or less for four hours or more.

“As we’ve already experienced today with relatively low snowfall totals, and somewhat gusty winds, travel became quite difficult due to slushy conditions and reduced visibility,” Sumner says. “Now multiply that by a few factors, and you can quickly understand why travel will not be advised Friday.”