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Extreme cold warning issued as freezing temperatures grip Edmonton

Environment Canada has issued an extreme cold warning for Edmonton and much of Alberta. (CBC - image credit)
Environment Canada has issued an extreme cold warning for Edmonton and much of Alberta. (CBC - image credit)

The city is urging Edmontonians to brace for extreme cold weather with temperatures expected to remain in the minus-20s today and Thursday, with wind chill values making it feel like –40 C.

The extreme cold warning is in effect for Edmonton, St. Albert and Sherwood Park — and for all of northern Alberta and much of the southeastern portion of the province, including the Lloydminster and Coronation areas.

Environment Canada issued an extreme cold warning early Wednesday.

Temperatures will dip to –29 C overnight in Edmonton and the cold will persist into Thursday before starting to warm on Friday headed into a much warmer weekend.

The wind chill will make it feel as cold as –40 C overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning.

Environment Canada meteorologist Brian Proctor said although temperatures will rise on the weekend, the long-term forecast for March does not offer much relief.

"When we look at our long range forecast for March, at this point in time it's still looking like it's going to be below seasonal at this point," Proctor said in an interview Wednesday.

He attributed the cold snaps to air flowing down from the North Pole and Siberia into northern Canada and Alberta.

Proctor urged Albertans to be prepared for the cold by looking out for vulnerable community members and always carrying a winter safety kit, especially when travelling.

Taking precautions

For people who have to be outside, Environment Canada advises dressing warmly by wearing layers and clothing that is wind resistant.

Signs of cold related overexposure include shortness of breath, chest pain, numbness, and change in colour in fingers and toes.

Scott Steier, owner of TradeMasters HVAC Services, said staying on top of furnace maintenance is key to preventing issues during extreme cold snaps.

"It doesn't matter how long ago you changed that filter, just change it just to be safe," Steier said.

"One of our biggest nuisance calls is just dirty filters. Lots of people forget and they should be changing them once a month."

He said normally furnace filter replacements cost $10 to $40, which he said is a cost worth paying in order to prevent more expensive issues in the future and keep homes heated during extreme weather.

Late last week, the City of Edmonton activated its extreme weather response to help keep vulnerable people safe during the cold weather. The measure went into effect Monday and is in place until Sunday at 6 p.m.

Edmonton Transit is providing dedicated overnight transportation on three bus routes. Buses are stopping at all bus stops to pick up passengers who need to get out of the cold.

Showers and other supports are available at the Bissell Centre and Boyle Street Community Services.

Boyle Street is operating a winter warming bus. The city's encampment response team is conducting wellness checks. All public library locations and recreation facilities are open for warming purposes.