UPDATE: As of February 14th, the extreme cold warning has ended.
The deep freeze blanketing Grande Prairie and a large swath of Alberta will likely start to lift by the end of the week, but experts say we aren’t out of the woods yet.
Environment and Climate Control Canada Meteorologist Kyle Fougere explains that when you have a system that pushes in such cold, dense, arctic air, it’s really hard to displace.
“The next couple of days they are going to stay about the same, and then they’ll slightly improve and it won’t be as bad toward the end of the week, but we are still going to stay way below average.”
On February 6th, the minimum windchill recorded in Grande Prairie was minus 52 degrees Celsius, besting a more than quarter-century old record. Fougere says, while air temperatures that cold are unpleasant at any time, the above-average winter weather otherwise felt in the region makes it that much worse.
“We live in a funny part of the world where you warm up by 20 degrees, think, ‘hey, this isn’t bad,” when it’s still minus 20 Celsius,” he laughs.
He adds for those who must work or spend any time outside, the message is clear: try to take breaks as much as possible and limit the amount of skin that is showing to the outside air. Fougere also suggests halting non-essential travel if possible during the cold snap, but, if necessary, prepare for any eventuality.
“Make sure you have an emergency kit in the vehicle, with warm blankets, clothes and maybe a candle. If trouble does arise, stay with the vehicle and don’t try to leave the vehicle and get help because sometimes that’s where people can get into trouble with the cold.”
According to Environment Canada, the average high for this time of year in Grande Prairie is minus 7 degrees.