Cold snap in Sask. should ease by weekend, but below-normal temps could last well into spring
The extreme cold snap gripping Saskatchewan is expected to lift by the weekend, but a meteorologist says the province can expect below-normal temperatures for the next several weeks.
Many areas are seeing daytime highs 20 degrees cooler than what they would normally get this time of year.
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Saskatoon and Regina normally see daytime highs around –5 C this time of year. The highs on Wednesday were expected to be closer to –26 C.
At times, the wind has been making it feel like the –40s.
As of noon CST Wednesday, almost the entire province was blanketed by extreme cold warnings.
Temperatures approaching seasonal norms are forecast to arrive in southern and central Saskatchewan by Sunday.
But Natalie Hasell, an ECCC warning preparedness meteorologist, said the next four weeks are still going to be cooler than normal.
"The deep freeze should be done for most of the province by this time next week," Hasell said. "But below-normal conditions are likely to continue into the middle and toward the end of March."
Hasell said Saskatchewan will also likely have a cooler-than-normal spring.
"If we look at the March/April/May forecast, we continue to see a signature for below-normal temperatures for most of the province," Hasell said. "That cold extending into March is probably the thing that is dominating this forecast."
"Right now, below normal is the main forecast for most of the Prairies."
In Saskatchewan's Athabasca Basin, overnight lows of –30 C are expected to continue into next week.
Hasell attributed the very cold weather to a ridge of of high pressure from the Arctic siting over the Prairies.
Environment Canada said everyone is at risk from extreme cold, but especially young children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, people working or exercising outdoors, and those without proper shelter.
It has advised people to dress warmly and watch out for signs of frostbite, such as numbness and colour change in fingers and toes.
Citizens are also urged to pay attention to other cold-related symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle pain and weakness.