The Prairies drew the short straw on the topsy-turvy weather pattern splashed across North America this week. While mild temperatures cover Ontario and record warmth spreads over the States, an incredible stretch of December frigidity persists on the Prairies through at least this weekend. Lows dipped below -40°C for some on Tuesday morning. More on what to expect through the weekend, below.
TUESDAY AND BEYOND: INTENSE COLD SLIDES EAST ACROSS THE PRAIRIES
Frigid temperatures are bad enough, but the southern Prairies also have to contend with a fresh blanket of snow to complete the wintry scene. Double-digit snowfall totals fell across southern portions of Saskatchewan and Manitoba through Monday.
Another quick burst of snow is possible across the southern Prairies on Tuesday, which will add a few more centimetres of snow on top of what’s already fallen.
Elsewhere across the region, though, the story of the week is the dangerous, prolonged spell of Arctic air. A lobe of the polar vortex remains wedged over the Prairies, sending some of the world’s coldest air plunging across the three provinces.
Conditions are so cold on the Prairies that weather satellites can see the frigid air from space. Air temperatures in the -30s and -40s are showing up on infrared satellite imagery, confusing the frigid air for cold cloud tops.
Just how cold is it? Consider that Grand Prairie, Alberta, marked a temperature of -44.4°C on Monday. This was a colder reading than parts of the high Arctic, and it wasn’t even close: Alert, on the northern shore of Ellesmere Island and the northernmost populated place in the world, made it to -30.3°C on Monday, around 14 degrees warmer than Grand Prairie.
Edmonton’s low temperature on Tuesday morning dipped below -40°C with a staggering wind chill value of -51. The city’s seasonal nighttime low for the end of December hovers around -15°C. Over in Saskatchewan, both Saskatoon and Regina woke up to temperatures firmly planted in the -30s.
We’ll see the heart of this cold snap slide into Saskatchewan on Tuesday, spreading high temperatures around -30°C to Prince Albert and Saskatoon.
Frigid temperatures will push into Manitoba on Tuesday, as well, with high temperatures plummeting into the -20s for Winnipeg for the remainder of the week.
Nighttime lows will dip into the middle -30s, with wind chill values pushing -40 or even lower.
Temperatures will warm slightly in Alberta, but it’s all relative when Calgary’s warmest high temperature this week will be a balmy -17°C on Thursday afternoon.
Extreme cold will remain a hazard all week. Significantly below-seasonal temperatures will persist on the Prairies into the beginning of January.
Check back for the latest on the dangerously cold air spilling over the Prairies.