(File Photo)

(File Photo)

Batten down the hatches, a dump of snow expected Friday afternoon

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement as upwards of 10 cm of snow is expected

Much of the province is bracing for their first real punch of winter.

Snow has been falling off and on for much of the week, but Environment Canada is warning Albertans to prepare for a sudden dump of upwards of 15 cm of snow before the end of day Friday.

A Pacific low is expected to move its way across central British Columbia and over the Rockies Thursday night before settling over south-central Alberta Friday.

The system is expected to bring a band of snow, producing 10-15 cm of snow by Friday afternoon.

“There remains considerable uncertainty as to where the majority of the snow will fall as this low is still off the BC Pacific coast,” Environment Canada said in a release, adding higher elevations, such as Banff, are expected to get more snow.

Because temperatures are expected to be above freezing before the system hits, Albertans are warned rain and freezing rain are a possibility.

As the cold front moves into Alberta, temperatures are expected to drop rapidly, accompanied by “strong northerly winds with gusts of 60 to 80 km/h.”

“This abrupt change in weather may lead to hazardous travel conditions,” Environment Canada said.

The Weather Network is tracking the weather system and says communities along the QEII, just north and south of Red Deer, could see around 10 cm of snow Friday.

Commuters are asked to “be alert for dangerous and/or changeable driving conditions.”

“There is the potential for another round of snow over the weekend, which we will be closely monitoring in the coming days,” the Weather Network said.