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This weekend will be Calgary’s warmest since 2023

Southern Alberta was at the crossroads of competing air masses early Wednesday, as Arctic air tracked south along the foothills, meeting up with a warmer eastward-bound Pacific air mass.

Due to natural density differences between warm and humid (less dense) versus cold and dry air (which is more dense), areas like Calgary experienced blustery conditions at the end of the morning commute Wednesday.

Light, scattered and mixed precipitation fell as the front rolled in, and winds of 20 to 40 km/h were forecast for much of the day.

The good news is this instability will not last long.

By Thursday, that ridge of high pressure to the west is expected to overtake the low and start to set up for a few days of consistently warm weather in southern Alberta.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), the average mid-March daytime highs in Calgary sit around 3 C.

The maximum temperatures starting Friday will hover between 14 C and 17 C. Overnight lows will also be mild, and that elevated nocturnal temperature, combined with minimal snow cover, will act to elevate the mid-afternoon highs for about six days.

Another pattern reversal is expected to set up by the middle of next week, which will drop daytime highs across the western Prairies back to a range below seasonal and more precipitation is expected.

Based on 30-year climatological averages, March is typically the snowiest month of the year in Calgary – recording an average of 22.7 centimetres of snow. Environment and Climate Change Canada data from the YYC Calgary International Airport location notes that between March 1 – March 6 over 25-centimetres of snow fell.

A snowfall of that magnitude over a shorter period of time can impact temperatures due to a widespread layer of snow on the ground.

Since Friday daytime highs have been between 9 C and 10 C, which has helped to melt a lot of that snow.

The “snow on ground” measurement at the airport went from 16 centimetres on Thursday to trace amounts (under 0.2 centimetres) on Tuesday. Bare ground is able to absorb more heat from the sun and creating a feedback loop that (often) further amplifies temperatures.  

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