Cold weather misery for Edmontonians as Alberta remains in deep freeze

·3 min read
Icy temperatures persist across Alberta after days of record lows.  (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Icy temperatures persist across Alberta after days of record lows. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press - image credit)

A blast of Arctic air has brought icy temperatures to Alberta, creating cold weather misery for Edmontonians — killing car batteries, straining the power grid and increasing the risk of frostbite.

After days of dangerously cold temperatures, almost the entire province remains under an extreme cold warning.

The relentless cold has made the winter inhospitable with a biting wind chill that makes the air feel like it's between –40 and –45.

A mass of swirling icy air continues to cloak the province and Environment Canada is warning Albertans to keep inside.

"I'm not used to this," said Patrick Mcmann, who was waiting for a bus in downtown Edmonton on Monday.

'Absolutely terrible'

"This is getting ridiculous," said Mcmann, who was complaining of a frozen nose and longing for a Calgary chinook. "Terrible. Absolutely terrible."

The frigid cold took hold over the Christmas weekend and, as the deep freeze lingered, dozens of new daily temperature records have been set. At least 15 Alberta communities, including Edmonton, reached record lows on Monday.

Environment Canada has warned that the province could be left shivering all week, even longer.

Nathan Gross/CBC
Nathan Gross/CBC

Edmontonians could see some reprieve on Saturday, when temperatures are forecast to reach –11 C, but temperatures are expected to plunge again next week.

Albertans are urged to limit their time outside until things thaw out.

"Cover up. Frostbite can develop within minutes on exposed skin, especially with wind chill," Environment Canada warned.

"Risks are greater for young children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, people working or exercising outdoors, and those without proper shelter."

The City of Edmonton activated its extreme weather response two weeks ago and, every night, dedicated buses are shuttling people off the streets to warming shelters.

Emergency shelter space has been temporarily expanded to ensure vulnerable people have a warm place to stay.

It was so cold on Monday, the city announced that it would pause non-essential snow clearing and pull its crews off the road until conditions improve.

"Due to the extreme cold, non-essential snow clearing work including clearing in Phase 2 residential areas have been paused, effective immediately," the city said. "The current temperatures present a significant risk to our staff, equipment and contracted equipment."

The cold temperatures are putting an added strain on the power grid. The Alberta Energy System Operator (AESO) issued a level 2 emergency alert Monday night, due to the weather affecting some energy generation.

According to the AESO, the province has since returned to normal operations but Albertans are being asked to conserve power and cut back on electricity use during the cold snap to ease the ongoing strain on the grid.

'Way too cold'

The cold is also causing problems for drivers. The Alberta Motor Association says there is at least a 40-hour wait for battery boosts in Edmonton. Drivers in the city could be waiting up to 76 hours to get towed by an AMA operator.

The association advises drivers to avoid non essential trips, to keep their vehicle stocked with emergency supplies and plug in block heaters four hours before driving.

John Ravlisca said the weather was starting to get to him. He running errands downtown in Edmonton Monday, and preparing to help his uncle boost his car's dead battery.

"It just couldn't start. He even plugged it in. It was just too cold," Ravlisca said.

"It's too cold, way too cold."

WATCH | The cold is affecting prairie provinces:

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