Alberta shivers as Arctic blast chills province to record lows

December 27, 2021
Alberta shivers as Arctic blast chills province to record lows

Extreme cold continues to grip Alberta, plunging some areas of the province into record low temperatures.

The entire province remains under an extreme cold warning with teeth-chattering temperatures well below the seasonal average and wind chill values that have made the air feel like it’s between –40 C and –55 C.

Environment Canada says some areas of northern Alberta will experience a “prolonged” deep freeze. The icy cold is expected to last well into next week.

The breathtaking temperatures had at least 15 communities across the province setting new daily temperature records on Monday.

The Edmonton International Airport set a new record low of –41.6 C. The old record of –38 C was set in 1992.

The Airdrie area hit a new record of –40.6 C, breaking the old record of –36.1 set in 1968, while Banff set a new record of –37.2, breaking the previous record of –34.4 C set in 1934.

Additional records have likely been set and meteorologists are reviewing the historical records to confirm, said Environment Canada meteorologist Chris Wielki. 

“It was very cold this morning with a few temperature records broken,” Wielki said. “And temperatures are continuing to drop.”

Too risky to clear snow in Edmonton

Edmonton was so cold Monday that the city put a pause on work to clear residential streets of snow and ice.

“The current temperatures present a significant risk to employees, equipment and contracted equipment,” the city said in a public service announcement. “Temperatures will be monitored and operations will resume when it is safe to do so.”

Frigid temperatures has left most of the western provinces shivering with brutal wind chills for days, forcing many families to keep inside over the holidays. 

Most of British Columbia and Saskatchewan, along with parts of Manitoba and Ontario, are also under extreme cold weather warnings.

Limit time outside

As of Monday it remained equally frosty across Alberta, with communities from Fort McMurray and Edmonton to Calgary and Medicine Hat calling for a wind chill near –40 C on Monday.

Wielki urged Albertans to bundle up and limit their time outside. In weather this cold, frostbite can develop in minutes. 

There is a chance we will return to normal on Saturday but then we’re back into the cold.-Chris Wielki

A blast of cold Arctic air is to blame for for bringing strong and bitterly cold winds to the province, Wielki said.

The relentless deep freeze could persist for days, he said.

“It’s going to be fairly persistent,” Wielki said. “There is a chance we will return to normal on Saturday but then we’re back into the cold on Sunday. 

“Even Saturday, it will be a fairly brief reprieve, a fairly brief break in the pattern.” 

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