With Christmas weekend pretty much here, and some of the busiest travel days of the year ahead, hitting the road Friday will include dealing with reduced visibility in blowing snow and trying to stay warm in bitter cold. An Extreme Cold Warning remains in effect for all of Southern Manitoba, with wind chill values nearing or slightly surpassing -40 today. A Blowing Snow Advisory has also been issued for the Red River Valley and Southeastern areas, including Morden, Carman, Winkler, Altona, Emerson, Morris, Vita, Steinbach and city of Winnipeg region.

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"The combination of that cold airmass that's been around all week, and very strong northerly winds, will produce those dangerous wind chill values today," explained CMOS Accredited Weathercaster Chris Sumner Friday morning. "The strongest gusts, up to 70 km/h, will occur in the Red River Valley and Southeastern Manitoba, but it will still be windy in Western Manitoba, with gusts up to 50 km/h. Meanwhile, the freshly fallen and light snow form the past few days, will be blown about significantly by those winds. Poor visibility will be ongoing throughout the entire day, especially in open areas, with conditions improving, somewhat, this evening as winds subside a little."

Sumner added the strong winds are being produced by the pressure gradient, or different in pressure, between a powerful winter storm moving through Ontario, and the area of arctic high pressure that's dominated the Western Canadian weather pattern for the past week.

"The gusty conditions will last well into the evening hours, and it will still be quite breezy Christmas Eve, so expect some blowing snow to continue Saturday."

Well below average temperatures will continue through the weekend, with highs seven to ten degrees below normal for this time of year through Boxing Day. Right now, the forecast is calling for a high of -19 for Friday, -20 for Christmas Eve, -18 for Christmas Day and -15 for Boxing Day.

"But, as we work our way through Christmas weekend, you'll notice a slight warm up each and every day," he said. "By Monday we'll be on our way back to seasonal conditions, but still a few degrees below average. As we come out of the weekend, we'll see a switch to a southerly flow, and that means warmer air returning to our region. The forecast models are showing by Tuesday or Wednesday next week, we should be back to where we should be for the final days of December, perhaps even a little warmer than average."

As for snowfall, Sumner noted there are still indications we could see two Alberta clippers in the coming days, one just brushing parts of Southern Manitoba Christmas Day as it dives out of Saskatchewan into the Dakotas, The second is expected to blast across the Prairies Tuesday and Wednesday.

"The impacts from the first clipper will be mostly felt in the far southwestern corner of the province," he added. "Impacts related to the second system are still uncertain, but based on current projections it will move through central Manitoba, there is the possibility impacts could be wider spread. With that said, at this point, we're not expecting either to lead to major travel disruptions."