Temperatures plummet as Arctic air mass hits Canada

An Arctic air mass continues to cast a deep freeze over large patches of Canada today, plunging many parts of the country into the negative double digits, and bringing cold air and wind chill warnings.

The high-pressure ridge is expected to move eastward through to the weekend when some areas of Canada will begin to see relative warmth compared with current conditions.

CBC News meteorologist Jay Scotland said Atlantic Canada would be hit with snow, with potentially dangerous wind chill values across much of the country.

Blizzard and snowfall warnings were in effect along the west coast of Newfoundland and southeastern Nova Scotia, where drivers were warned to give themselves ample time to reach morning destinations due to blowing snow and poor visibility.

Southeastern Newfoundland looks likely to be the hardest hit by the storm, Scotland said, with about 15 centimetres expected to fall around the vicinity of St. John's and the Avalon Peninsula in eastern Newfoundland.

Schools across the Avalon and some on the Burin Peninsula. on the south coast of the island, cancelled afternoon classes and closed early today.

There are also weather woes forecast in northern Alberta, southern Manitoba, northern Ontario and central Quebec, due to very low wind chill values.

Temperatures in Manitoba are forecast to be particularly harsh.

In Winnipeg, a Tuesday high of –21 C drives home the severity of its wind chill warning. The extreme chill is forecast to feel as low as –40 in the morning, and daytime highs over the next week aren't expected to get any warmer than –20 C.

The CBC's Cameron MacIntosh said Winnipeggers were going about their daily routines despite the frigid temperatures.

"It takes a lot to really debilitate this city and things are going pretty much as normal here," said MacIntosh, bundled up in a balaclava. "Basically people are just huddling up, shivering it out and trying to stay inside as much as possible."

Canada Post experienced a minor glitch in Winnipeg on Monday, as 18,000 people didn't receive their mail, after delivery trucks wouldn't start. A spokesperson said today that mail would be delivered as scheduled.

In Charlottetown, temperatures hovered around –14 C Tuesday morning, and with winds out of the north later in the day, the wind chill was expected to feel like –20 for the rest of the week.

"The weather gods are coming back and we're seeing the flip side of that beautiful summer," said the CBC's Sara Fraser, describing the temperatures as normal for this time of year.

Staff at Toronto's homeless shelters opened an additional 172 shelter spaces overnight Monday for those caught in the bitter cold.

The bone-chilling Toronto temperatures may have already claimed one man's life overnight. A homeless man was found without vital signs and hypothermic on Markham Road in the Scarborough neighbourhood. He later died in hospital.

City shelters in Montreal have been at over capacity all week. Temperatures felt like – 23 with the wind chill, below the season average, and are expected to reach – 38 by tonight. Some shelter services in the city are driving around and picking up people who are in need.

Environment Canada forecast Toronto temperatures late Monday and into early Tuesday morning to dip into –13 C without the wind chill, and a high of –11 C on Tuesday during the day. With the wind chill, it will feel like –25 in the city.

There were no special weather statements or warnings issued for Toronto, but motorists in the Barrie, Collingwood and Hillsdale regions further northwest were told to brace for snow squalls and near-zero visibility on the roads from blowing snow.

Parts of northern Ontario are under wind chill warnings due to the Arctic air mass and gusts of around 15 km/h, which could bring wind chill values as low as –55 in the morning, though daytime heating is likely to bring that up closer to a still-blistering –45.

Ottawa will experience a high of –15 C with temperatures falling to –19 C in the afternoon.

A high of –17 C is forecast for parts of Quebec, with a wind chill in the morning making it feel closer to around –30.

Extreme wind chills were in effect late Monday night for the Abitibi regions, courtesy of a northwest flow from eastern Quebec bringing strong winds and cold air. Environment Canada issued a warning saying the uncomfortable conditions would spread into central Quebec and persist in the St. Lawrence Valley throughout the week.

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