Medicine Hat News

Extreme cold starting to leave Prairies after more than a week of frigid temperatur­es


When most people across the Prairies left their homes Monday, they faced the cold but not the icy blast of a polar vortex kind of cold.

A meteorolog­ist with Environmen­t and Climate Change Canada says the Artic air that moved into Alberta, Saskatchew­an and Manitoba roughly 10 days ago is moving away, taking with it an extreme cold that broke records across the region.

“In some areas the records are going back more than 50 years. So this is, you know, in some senses a one-in-50-year or rare event,” Dan Kulak said.

“You would normally expect this type of cold weather one or twice in your lifetime in the month of February.”

While winds across the Prairies made some places feel like -50 C, raising concerns about the need for emergency shelters, the most frigid temperatur­es were recorded in the provinces’ northern regions.

At one point, the temperatur­e in Uranium City, one of the northernmo­st places in Saskatchew­an, dropped to -48.9 C, Kulak said.

In Fort Chipewyan, Alta., located in the province’s far northeast, it dropped to -47.3 C. And in Kelsey Dam, in Manitoba’s north, it went to -46.9 C.

“It was a very significan­t cold snap,” Kulak said.

The Prairies had two months of mild winter weather before the Arctic cold moved in, he added, and that lead to an extreme transition within the span of a couple of days.

February was like “opening the freezer door.”

For example, Kulak said, Waterton Park in southweste­rn Alberta, dropped 27 degrees below normal.

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