A snowfall warning has been issued for Hay River, just over a day before thousands of athletes travel to the Arctic Winter Games closing ceremony and head home.

Hay River hosts the closing ceremony on Saturday afternoon. Hundreds of athletes who spent the week competing in Fort Smith are due to make the journey to Hay River by road earlier on Saturday, while a stream of flights out of Hay River after the ceremony will take athletes back home as the Games end.

However, Environment Canada cautioned in its warning that “rapidly accumulating snow will make travel difficult” and “visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow.”

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The agency is predicting 10 to 20 centimetres of snow in the Hay River and Enterprise area before Saturday morning, most of it falling during Friday night.

“A strong system moving inland from the Pacific will spread snow to southern parts of the NWT starting Friday afternoon,” read the snowfall warning, which was first issued on Thursday afternoon.

Arctic Winter Games spokesperson Sarah Pruys told Cabin Radio: “Right now the Department of Infrastructure, the RCMP, and both towns are monitoring the weather situation and are ready to respond and ensure the roads are cleared quickly so that everything can proceed on schedule. There will also be an extra patrol on the highways.

“It looks like we are now scheduled to get most of our snow today, so we are hopeful that they’ll be able to get it cleared off the roads before the buses start leaving for Hay River for the closing ceremonies.”