Snow, freezing rain, dense fog: Canada battered with the unholy trinity of weather systems

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Canada was hit with three major weather systems this week, a real coast-to-coast-to-coast taste of the winter season still to come.

In the west, an “atmospheric river” brought fog over parts of British Columbia and as far north as the Northwest Territories Thursday morning, with Canada’s environment web site warning of near-zero visibility in areas as far-flung as Prince George, B.C., and Fort Smith, N.W.T.

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An atmospheric river is pretty much what it sounds like: A long, narrow region of air that transports water vapour. When they make landfall they can bring rain or snow to a region.

That’s what happened next, when the river made it over the Rocky Mountains and delivered a load of precipitation on the other side. This caused Environment Canada to issue snowfall warnings for Alberta communities in and around Banff, including Canmore, Rocky Mountain House and Calgary. Totals of between 10 and 20 centimetres were expected, although Calgary was expected to get less than 10 centimetres.

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Meanwhile, in the north of the province, a separate storm system was bettering communities there, with Environment Canada warning of patchy freezing rain. Both systems then drifted eastward into Saskatchewan and then Manitoba, causing similar conditions there.

On the opposite side of the country, a storm was brewing off the coast of Greenland and heading west, prompting winter storm warnings from Environment Canada for large swaths of Newfoundland and Labrador. Some areas were told to prepare for up to 35 centimetres of snow.

And to think the first actual day of winter is still almost two weeks away.

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