The City of Saskatoon is gearing up for what could be a record-breaking snowstorm over the weekend.
“The winter storm that is being predicted is one that has the potential to interfere in our residents’ ability to safely navigate the city this weekend,” Pamela Goulden-McLeod, the city's Emergency Management Organization (EMO) Director, said in a news release.
“For this reason, we need to all prepare for the possibility that we might need to stay home for a few days and plan accordingly.”
Environment Canada is forecasting 30 centimetres of snow will fall in Saskatoon over the weekend with up to 50 cm in the southern part of the province. Freezing rain and wind gusts of 80 kilometres per hour are also in the forecast.
Although the first snowflake has yet to fall, the storm is already drawing comparisons to a 2007 blizzard that brought the city to a standstill.
"We learned a lot of lessons in 2007 as a municipality but also as residents about what we need to do to be prepared. I think in Saskatchewan sometimes we can be pretty confident that we know how to handle cold weather and we know how to handle storms but this one has the potential to be bigger," Goulden-McLeod said during a Zoom news conference Thursday afternoon.
As many as city 200 workers will be out over the weekend clearing snow and de-icing when needed.
"If the snow is as bad as predicted, it’s possible that streets may get snowdrifts or icy conditions between passes from our equipment. Drivers will need to take great care and even stay off the streets if they can," said Terry Schmidt, the city's general manager of transportation and construction.
City officials are also warning the storm could cause power outages due to wet, heavy snow collecting on power lines and that there is also potential for falling tree limbs due to the weight of the snow.
Environment Canada meteorologist Terri Lang said the heavy, moisture-rich snow is courtesy of a Colorado Low, a weather system that taps into moisture and warmth from the southern United States.
"Combine that with cold winds and cold air from the north — that combines and you get these really, really heavy snowfalls, which is exactly what we're forecasting," Lang told CTV News.
Monday is also election day for the city's 2020 municipal election. Polling stations are scheduled to run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and city officials are recommending voters plan to have "lots of time to get to and from voting locations."
In an email sent to candidates Wednesday evening, the city's returning officer Scott Bastian urged patience on election day and said the snow may delay some poll workers or force them to back out of their scheduled shift altogether.
Bastian also said concerns about the imminent wild winter weather likely led to an "exceptionally high" turnout at advance polls on Wednesday.
Saskatoon Transit will "do everything possible" to maintain schedules but the city said there could be delays as crews are working to clear streets.
City officials are asking residents to help by keeping sidewalks as clear as possible, exercising caution when near snow maintenance equipment and by avoiding travel.
Power outages, fallen tree limbs, and icy road patches can be reported by calling 306-975-2476.
The heavy snowfall looming in the forecast is also a concern for paramedics in the city.
On Friday afternoon, Medavie Health Services West asked residents to take care when shovelling their way out of this weekend's forecasted snowstorm.
"Each year we have a minimum of 2-3 cardiac arrests that occur as a result of shovelling. If you are going to shovel keep in mind it doesn’t have to be done all at once, take breaks, stretch before lifting snow, wear proper footwear and dress in layers”, public affairs director Troy Davies said in a news release.
Davies also suggested people with any type of cardiac history turn to neighbours or family for help clearing walkways and driveways.
"If you do end up shovelling and experience any chest pain we ask that you stop immediately and call for help,” Davies said.
--With files from CTV News Saskatoon's Laura Woodward
This is a developing story. More details to come.