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‘Frostbite in under a minute’: Calgary temperatures to plunge even deeper this week

Temperatures are expected to drop as low as -37 C on Friday, per Environment Canada forecasts, before the cold snap starts lifting.

Friday daytime high could be coldest in 20 years, says Environment Canada

This week's cold snap will mean better conditions at the Canada Olympic Park ski hill. The hill is closed through Friday giving crews a chance to step up snowmaking operations.

Today is expected to be one of the chilliest days so far this winter, but meteorologists say Calgary will plunge even deeper into extreme cold this week.

Temperatures are expected to drop as low as –37 C on Friday, per Environment Canada forecasts, before the cold snap starts lifting.

The chill is so severe, it's threatening to break recent weather records.

"We usually get cold snaps like this [in] January and February in Alberta, but this cold hasn't happened in about 20 years," said Environment Canada meteorologist Alyssa Pederson.

Friday's projected daytime high is –31 C. The last daytime high below –30 C happened on Jan. 27, 2004.

Wind chills in the mid –40s are expected in Calgary on Friday or Saturday morning, said Pederson, and wind-prone areas around the city could see wind chills reach -50.

Wind chill is an approximate measure of how cold it feels during chilly, windy weather. The figures are based on the effects of wind velocity and low temperature on skin.

"You can get frostbite in under a minute with wind chills that cold," said Pederson.

"Wear appropriate clothing, cover up all skin if possible, dress in layers."

Pederson said tumbling temperatures are caused by an Arctic ridge of high pressure pushing polar air from the Northwest Territories into Alberta.

For those who need support to get out of the cold, 425 warming spaces are open at various locations, according to the Calgary Homeless Foundation.

The CHA also says shelters have enough capacity to manage an uptick in demand for beds.

Expect longer service wait times, says AMA

The Alberta Motor Association said calls about dead batteries can spike by six times in extreme cold.

A huge volume of requests means roadside assistance wait times will also increase.

AMA chief instructor Mark Pasternak recommends drivers consider using synthetic oil, plug in their cars two to three hours before starting the engine, and prepare for worst-case scenarios.

"Have the extra gloves and coats and snow pants and some fresh socks and things just in case you have to put them on," he said.

"If you have an emergency kit, it's ideal because if something did really go wrong, at least you have something there to help support you."

Pasternak also said braving the cold to clean off your vehicle thoroughly is an important part of safe driving during extreme winter conditions.

He said people who can't reach an operator on the AMA's direct phone line can request help through the AMA website or app.

Ski hill closes for safety reasons

The cold has forced WinSport to close the Canada Olympic Park ski and snowboard hill through Friday.

Cancelled field trips this week were a sign to press pause, said communications manager Dale Oviatt.

"If the school groups decide they're not coming, you know, that's a big part of our business," he said.

"They have a lower threshold … [but] if they cancel, we use that as one of the measuring sticks."

But a few days without skiers isn't all bad news for the park.

"We were a little bit behind on our snowmaking and what this does is allow our snowmaking operations to make snow 24/7," said Oviatt.

"If it's –20 C to –25 C, we can make more snow in a shorter period."

WinSport will decide on Thursday if it's safe to reopen the hill for the weekend.

Temperatures could climb back to a high of –7 C on Monday, according to Environment Canada.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brendan Coulter is a reporter for CBC Calgary. He previously served as CBC British Columbia's Kootenay pop-up bureau reporter. He has also worked for the CBC in Kamloops and Edmonton. Reach him at brendan.coulter@cbc.ca.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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