Deep freeze settles over Prairies

Environment Canada is warning people across the Prairies to bundle up for the next several days.

An extreme wind chill warning has been issued for northern and eastern Alberta, all of Saskatchewan and parts of Manitoba.

Forecasters say that with the wind chill, it could feel like –45 C in many regions this weekend. Under those conditions, exposed skin can freeze in mere minutes.

In Calgary, temperatures were expected to dip down to –30 C Saturday evening, with a windchill that makes it fell like –38 C.

Many residential areas of the city remain covered with ice and snow, and an electrical problem that shut down C-Train service in the downtown core left many Calgary Transit passengers waiting in the cold for shuttle buses. Service was restored near noon.

Areas northeast of the city are under a wind chill warning, and Environment Canada is predicting a wind chill that will make it feel like –40 C or lower for areas near Drumheller, Hanna and Oyen.

The plunging temperatures set records in northern and eastern parts of the province, with Fort McMurray, High Level, Cold Lake and Peace River all seeing record lows for this date.

Morning temperatures in High Level sank as low as –40.9 C. In Fort McMurray, a severe wind chill meant temperatures as low as a numbing –39 C felt much worse.

Temperatures at Edmonton International Airport plunged to –32 C, less than one degree off the record of set in 1961. The mercury is expected to drop to –39 C overnight Saturday.

Alyssa Charbonneau, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said the super-cold weather will likely stick around for several more days.

“We have a cold ridge building in from the north bringing really cold air right down south over the Prairies,” she told the Edmonton Journal. “We’re getting some winds with that as well, out of the northwest, so we do have wind chill warnings in effect for much of the eastern part of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.”