Much of Canada is under a winter weather warning, and it’s expected that bitterly cold wind chills in some parts will continue until the weekend.
According to Environment Canada, an extreme cold warning has been issued for much of the country, including all of Alberta and Saskatchewan, with wind chills nearing -40.
Northern Ontario, northern and southern Quebec, some parts of Nunavut, Manitoba and British Columbia, and Newfoundland and Labrador are also expected to experience very cold wind chills, freezing rain or snow.
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“A large upper-level low (pressure system) is leading to a cold Arctic blast across the nation,” Global Edmonton chief meteorologist Jesse Beyer said on Wednesday.
Much of the U.S. is also experiencing extreme cold and winter storms that are sowing more chaos on Thursday, shutting down much of Portland, Ore., after the city experienced its second-snowiest day in history and paralyzing travel from parts of the Pacific Coast all the way to the northern Plains.
As a result, airlines have warned Wednesday that travel to and from Central Canada may be affected by a winter storm sweeping in from the West.
The blizzard conditions may cause delays to flights into and out of airports in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal on Wednesday and Thursday, Air Canada and WestJet said.
Here’s a look at how the weather system has started impacting some provinces.
Nearly all of southern Ontario is under some sort of weather warning from Environment Canada, with freezing rain warnings to the south, winter storm warnings into the Toronto area and toward Kingston, and snowfall warnings further north.
According to Environment Canada, a period of very cold wind chills is expected for northern parts of Ontario with wind chills nearing -40.
“Extreme cold conditions are expected once again overnight into Friday morning,” the weather agency said in its alert issued Thursday.
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Motorcycle accident toronto today meteorologist Anthony Farnell said Wednesday that he also expects that colder air will move in on Friday and into the weekend.
“It will be a struggle to shovel this mess as a snow and ice pellet and freezing rain combo will create a form of frozen cement,” he said for areas that will see that messy mix.
A prolonged period of very cold wind chills is expected for Quebec’s north and south, Environment Canada said.
An Arctic air mass combined with moderate winds will give wind chill values between -52 and -54 Thursday night and on Friday.
“However, communities located west of Ungava Bay will experience wind chill values near minus 60,” the agency stated.
An Arctic blast of winter has settled over all of British Columbia.
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Global BC meteorologist Mark Madryga said Wednesday that after two very cold, dry and mostly sunny days Thursday and Friday on the South Coast, Saturday will turn snowy later in the day and especially on Saturday night.
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“Current predictions of snowfall amounts Saturday night in the Lower Mainland are on the order of five to 15 centimetres. This will be followed by a drier and milder Sunday,” said Madryga.
Environment Canada has issued extreme cold warnings for all of Alberta, with Beyer adding that wind chill values overnight will be into the -40s in many areas, including Edmonton.
The weather agency said the wind chill may moderate during the day, but the extreme cold will continue through the week.
“We will be cold Wednesday through Friday but should return to minus-side single digits for the weekend,” Beyer said.
Environment Canada said extreme wind chill values near -40 will continue Thursday as a bitterly cold Arctic airmass remains over the region.
The cold weather is expected to continue until the weekend, at which point a warming trend begins, bringing temperatures to near seasonal values by Sunday, the agency added.
Meteorologist Chris Stammers told 680 CJOB’s The Start Thursday that Manitoba may be mere days away from temperatures beginning to turn around.
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“It looks like a couple more days,” Stammers said.
“By Sunday, we’re going to be warming back up toward normal, so really about three more days of this really cold weather.
“Certainly, as we get into March, it gets harder to have a prolonged stretch of extreme cold, so I think we’ve probably started to turn the corner. … You can still see these temperatures, it’s just not as prolonged.”
An extreme cold warning is being issued for Saskatoon, Regina and much of the province, with Environment Canada saying wind chill values could hit in the -40 to -45 range.
“Temperatures are expected to return to near seasonal values this weekend,” the weather agency said. Natalie Hasell of Environment Canada told Motorcycle accident toronto today Wednesday that Saskatchewan is under the influence of a ridge of high pressure, which is bringing cold, Arctic air south.
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“Most of the province is under an alert for the extreme cold,” Hasell said.
She said places like Moose Jaw, Assiniboia, Swift Current, Shaunavon and Leader are not under the extreme cold warning, but added that the southwestern corner of the province is still quite cold.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Most of Newfoundland and Labrador is expected to be under a prolonged period of very cold wind chills, according to Environment Canada.
The coldest wind chills are expected to be from -30 to -25, which is expected to begin Thursday night and continue until early next week.
“An arctic air mass will settle over the island for the next few days. While warning criteria is not expected to be met on most of the island, wind chill values will be very cold, posing a risk of frostbite. Conditions will begin moderating gradually by early next week,” the weather agency said.
How can Canadians stay safe?
According to Environment Canada, some of the cold-related symptoms to watch out for are “shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle pain and weakness, numbness and colour change in fingers and toes.”
The Canadian government is also urging people to get assistance if needed.
“Get medical assistance immediately if you notice signs of confusion, slurred speech, stiff muscles or uncontrollable shivering. These are signs of hypothermia,” the government said on its website.
The government adds that it’s important to have an emergency pack at hand with a battery-powered flashlight, a radio, tools for emergency repair, ready-to-eat food, a first aid kit, blankets and extra clothing should it become too cold to venture outdoors.
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“Keep your car gas tank full in case gas stations close down after a storm and have some cash on hand in case bank machines and electronic payment methods are down,” the government said.
Canadians are also being reminded to dress warmly.
“Wear layers of clothing with a wind-resistant outer layer,” the government said. “You can remove layers if you get too warm, before you start sweating, or add a layer if you get cold.”
In extremely cold conditions like this one, the government recommends covering as much exposed skin as possible.
“If you get wet, change into dry clothing. You lose heat faster when you are wet.”
— with files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Karen Bartko, Amy Judd, Ryan Rocca, Brody Langager and Sam Thompson, Motorcycle accident toronto today