Southern Manitoba will look very different by Wednesday afternoon as a Colorado low begins impacting the province Tuesday evening.

Environment Canada has now issued a winter storm warning for many areas, including the City of Winnipeg. Some areas in western Manitoba are now under a blizzard warning. Meteorologists still expect widespread snowfall accumulations of 30-50 cm by Friday morning.  Winds gusting at 60-70 km/h are also expected, giving zero visibility at times in snow and blowing snow.

"It's pretty high certainty that this is going to happen," says meteorologist Kyle McAulay, who notes that Environment Canada has been tracking the storm for roughly a week. 

The snow will start early Tuesday evening near the International border and then push northward throughout the night, the weather warnings say. By Wednesday morning heavy snow will be falling in much of the area as the storm continues to push northward.

Environment Canada says the City of Winnipeg and other areas can expect 15 to 20 cm of snow by Wednesday afternoon, with a further 15 to 20 cm likely with the second area of snow overnight Wednesday through Thursday and Thursday night.

For the City of Winnipeg and points southeast, a break in the snow may occur on Wednesday afternoon or evening before snow re-intensifies overnight into Thursday.

By Friday morning, widespread snowfall accumulations of 30 to 40 cm are likely, with 50 cm possible in some areas, McAulay says.

Travel not advised, highway closures expected

The national weather service is warning people to plan ahead and not travel saying that "Travel will become increasingly difficult as the day progresses Wednesday, with widespread highway closures a near certainty."

The weather warnings say that "by Wednesday evening even travel within communities may become impossible as the heavy snow and strong winds continue... and more of the same is expected on Thursday."

Environment Canada is again urging Manitobans not to travel during the weather event saying "this storm has the potential to be the worst blizzard in decades."

"You should not be travelling if you don't have to; stay home if you can," says McAuley. For those who need to leave their house, he recommends being prepared with a shovel, extra supplies and phone charger in their vehicle. "I've been telling everyone just assume you're probably going to get stuck at some point."

Power outages are likely, rural areas, in particular, should be prepared for extended outages.

Conditions should begin to improve on Friday as the winds taper off and the heaviest snow moves into northern Ontario...although the clean-up after this storm will likely last well into next week.

Winnipeggers should expect a significant impact on rush hour traffic by Wednesday afternoon. 

Winter storm warnings are issued when multiple types of severe winter weather are expected to occur together.