Deep freeze rolls in, with event cancellations, venue closures and the spectre of a –27 high

A deep freeze rolling down from Siberia is expected to plunge Calgary temperatures as low as –34 in coming days, with some events cancelled and recreation venues planning to close — even the participants of the No Pants CTrain Ride are urged to double up on underwear.

The city's free outdoor yoga lesson, or "Snoga," has been called off, and WinSport plans to close its ski and snowboard hill on Monday and Tuesday due to the forecast.

And participants in the annual Ice Breaker Polar Dip are no doubt relieved to hear it's also been put off, to Feb. 22 — but due to thin ice on Mahogany Lake, rather than the weather.

One event still going forward is the annual No Pants CTrain Ride, the Calgary version of an event whereby people in cities worldwide strip off their trousers to display brightly coloured underpants while riding public transit.

Dave Gilson/CBC

"I checked the other cities and I'm pretty sure it will be the coldest no pants subway ride in the world this year," says Thomas Terashima, who is organizing the event.

Asked how those who are half-dressed will be able to handle the cold, Terashima had this advice: "Double up on underwear."

'Two dozen degrees colder than it should be'

The extreme cold will extend into southern Alberta on Saturday with temperatures plunging to –25 C or even lower by the weekend and a high of about –27 by Monday, Environment Canada says.

Dave Phillips, Environment Canada's senior climatologist, blamed a "cross-polar flow" of cold air making its way down from Siberia. 

"Monday, I think, is really the centre of the cold. If you take a look at the Monday high, we're talking about –27," Phillips told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"I mean, that's like two dozen degrees colder than it should be in Calgary this time of the year."

Thomas Terashima

The forecast calls for a low of –34 on Monday night. 

In the next seven days, even afternoon temperatures are expected to hover below –20, Phillips said.

"You might see maybe five of those in a year in Calgary. Well, I count four of them in the next seven days. So this is a really intense cold."

Freeze will be a 'one-week wonder'

On the bright side, Phillips says, these temperatures should be as cold as it gets this winter.

"It'll be like a one-week wonder and not a one-month, as we saw last year," said the climatologist.

In February 2019, Alberta experienced wind chill values between –40 and –45, and most of southern and central Alberta were under extreme cold warnings issued by Environment Canada.

Environment Canada

For this year, Phillips says graphs show that this Saturday, Sunday and Monday have statistically been the lowest in temperature for the season.

"This is the dead of winter," he said. "We know every day after that statistically gets a little warmer than the previous day. So there's more winter behind us than ahead of us."

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.