Alberta Foothills Weather

The edge of winter at Abraham Lake

The weather looked fine until we got there.
For a week, Brandon Brown and I had been planning a trip to Abraham Lake on Saturday, before the cold arrived. Right up till the night before the models were showing nice conditions out there, light wind, with a good chance for some nice sunrise clouds. On the road shortly after 5am it looked good all the way out, overhead we could see the edge of the ridge to the south and even a few lenticular looking things in the moonlight.
The wind started to pick up near Nordegg and was ripping at Windy Point, a little clipper low to the east was pulling air through the valley. We found calm at Cline River for a sunrise try, open turquoise water gushing into Abraham Lake with oodles of icy treats everywhere, but no happy light. Snow showers wafting down the peaks and thin cloud piling up against the front range cut off most of the sunrise, the sun only peeking through the haze a few times all morning. The wind came out again as we got to the Kootenay Plains and stayed with us for the rest of the ride. When we got out for a look near Bighorn Dam it was really chewing on my face. Coming straight down the lake at 30-50kmh, I hid from it in the trees peeking out at Brandon down on the ice shooting head on into the teeth of it.
Winter chased us out and all the way home, ending the day with a snow squall at Gleniffer Lake when we tried for a sunset stop.
I didn’t take a lot of photos, but we did hike around a fair bit and got to absorb some of the most beautiful country in the world. Getting to the Siffleur River for a drink of the scenery always makes my day, add to that some great chatter, a nice relaxed drive, and you have a great trip.

The wind picked up steadily and the temperatures started dropping as soon as we got back and then the snow started. We got maybe 5cm of white but the wind blew most of it off the roads, which were cold enough for nothing to stick for the most part. A drift here and there but really a non-event in these parts.
The temperature has been on a downward slide for the past 24 hours, sitting at -22C as I type, only 5 stations in the province are above -20, but only one is below -30, so far.
Wednesday morning is going to be a sharp one with temps getting closer to -40, but there is great news to go with that, a break in the pattern.
What was a unbreakable dome of cold to the end of the month for a several model runs, with little lows getting crushed in southern BC or bouncing off to the south, has been compromised. A low coming onshore Friday was supposed to stand no chance and get squashed in Cranbrook but now has gained some jam and is forecast to push all the way to the foothills Saturday. The cold block takes a hit and starts to come apart and then….
all bets are off.
Hints of a big low spinning into the coast and up to the Gulf of Alaska next week could be good news if it holds.
Going by what the models say, it shouldn’t look much different snow-wise around here 10 days from now. BC is the place to be if you want snow, they have a lot more in the forecast for the next week. Still a good chance for a change before then, it could push west a bit more and give us a dump, it doesn’t have far to push at this point.
I’m on the fence whether I want snow now or not.

Early morning light at Abraham Lake - Jan. 14, 2012Siffleur River - Jan. 14, 2012North Saskatchewan River in the Kootenay Plains - Jan. 14, 2012
Two O clock falls frozen stiff - Jan. 14, 2012Abraham Lake near Bighorn Dam - Jan. 14, 2012Shooting in a stiff breeze on Abraham Lake - Jan. 14, 2012

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