Polar vortex covers the Prairies, bitter cold refuses to loosen its grip

Digital Writers
·3 min read
Polar vortex covers the Prairies, bitter cold refuses to loosen its grip
Polar vortex covers the Prairies, bitter cold refuses to loosen its grip

The prolonged cold snap remains intact Sunday across the Prairies and will persist through most of next week. There will be some moderation in temperature at times, typically during daylight hours, but overnight lows will be dangerously cold, especially. Along with winds of 10-20 km/h, the polar vortex is resulting in extreme wind chill values of -40 or colder over most of the Prairie provinces on Sunday. Wind chill values in parts of southern Saskatchewan and western Manitoba could even eclipse the -50-mark in the overnight hours. Extreme cold warnings remain in place, as exposure to the cold can bring about frostbite and hypothermia. For a deeper look, see below.

WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS

  • Arctic air locked in for the entire Prairie region

  • Daytime highs may struggle to reach -30°C for the coldest communities, feeling like -40 or colder with the wind chill

  • Extreme cold relaxes somewhat late next week, but still below seasonal

SUNDAY AND BEYOND: HAZARDOUS COLD LOCKED IN, EXPOSURE CAN HAVE HEALTH IMPACTS

Despite the frigid temperatures that have settled onto the Prairies this weekend, there is some lingering snow Sunday. However, it will be confined to northern Manitoba and along the Rockies. It will taper off in the overnight hours as temperatures drop.

Speaking of temperatures, Sunday will feature more extreme cold that has been in place for days. Temperatures will plunge to -35°C to -45°C, with hazardous wind chills in the -40s and even below -50. Extreme cold warnings blanket Saskatchewan, Manitoba and parts of Alberta.

prsun
prsun

"Watch for cold related symptoms: Shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle pain and weakness, numbness and colour change in fingers and toes," Environment Canada says in the extreme cold warning. "Cover up. Frostbite can develop within minutes on exposed skin, especially with wind chill."

The statement adds, "If it's too cold for you to stay outside, it's too cold for your pet to stay outside."

Extreme cold warnings are issued when very cold temperatures or wind chills creates an elevated risk to health such as frostbite and hypothermia.

Daytime high temperatures on Sunday will remain below -30°C for Saskatoon, Prince Albert and parts of Manitoba. Regina is forecast to hit -30°C. So overnight lows will be much colder than that.

When including the wind chill, it will feel at or even slightly above -40 even during the peak of the day in parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba Sunday. Alberta won't fare much better, as daytime highs will "only" sink to the low minus-20s. Places such as Calgary, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge will shiver in wind chills, bringing them close to, at or even above -30.

Frost bite graphic
Frost bite graphic

That's some serious cold, worse than parts of the actual Canadian Arctic. Winnipeg's Sunday high will be below Whitehorse's -- and with a forecast high of -3°C that day, Iqaluit will be warmer than anywhere on the Prairies due to comparatively warmer easterly flow.

Depending on how the forecast materializes, some cities may see daytime highs fall below -30°C for the first time in more than a decade – in Edmonton's case, 17 years.

BURR
BURR

While Sunday will be the worst of the cold for many people, bitterly cold temperatures will be sticking around until the middle of next week. The severity of the cold will relax by late-week or the weekend, but temperatures will still remain well below seasonal.

Check back as we continue to monitor these bitterly cold conditions.