Canada gripped by freezing temperatures, high winds
Published Monday, January 21, 2013 3:04PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 22, 2013 12:09AM EST
Canadians faced a wintry blast Monday, as temperatures dropped well below the freezing mark across the country and weather alerts were issued for multiple cities.
Environment Canada issued a wind chill warning for southern Manitoba, as cold arctic air and winds of 20 to 30 km/h produced “dangerous wind chills” of -40 to -45 C early Monday.
The wind chill is forecasted to drop to below -40 C again by evening, Environment Canada said.
Later Monday night, the wind chill in Winnipeg is expected to drop to -43 C.
The frosty weather wreaked havoc on the city’s cars, disabling many of them. CAA Manitoba reported service wait times of up to six hours on Monday.
The weather also caused delays for Canada Post. It was unable to deliver mail to 18,000 Winnipeg homes because mail carriers had to take extra breaks and some of the delivery vehicles wouldn’t start.
Residents who work outdoors were advised to adjust their work to the cold weather.
“You have to have a place to warm up. You have to be able to take break,” Warren Preece of the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba said.
Environment Canada warned that in these extreme cold temperatures, exposed skin can be frostbitten in less than 10 minutes.
Saskatoon and Regina also suffered through bitterly cold temperatures. For most of the day the temperature sat in the -20s in Saskatoon and Regina and the wind chill remained in the -30s.
Garbage pickup was postponed for a number of routes in Saskatoon because the hydraulics on the city’s garbage trucks weren’t functioning. Some school bus routes were also cancelled.
Meanwhile Toronto issued an “Extreme Cold Weather Alert” Monday, warning homeless people of the frigid overnight temperatures, which were expected to reach -13 C.
An extra 172 overnight spaces were opened at Toronto’s homeless shelters and shelter rules were relaxed so that people would not be turned away.
In Ottawa the temperature dropped to -18 C, prompting the city’s public health office to issue a frostbite warning.
Over the weekend fierce winds caused police to close multiple roads after whiteouts and icy conditions caused dozens of crashes.
In Montreal, 35 extra beds were made available in the city’s shelters, as the temperature dipped to -16 C.
St. Michael’s Mission said the shelter, which is usually only open during the day, will be bringing in extra volunteers to keep its doors open throughout the night.
Environment Canada says that a warming trend across the country will result in more severe rain, wind, snow and heat in the coming year.
Last year was the 16th consecutive year where Canada saw higher than normal temperatures, meteorologist Bob Robichaud noted.
Over the last decade, only four of 40 seasons were cooler than normal.
Climate change experts warn that the East Coast should prepare for heavier rainfall and more frequent non-tropical storms, Robichaud said.
In 2012, Canada experienced intense heat waves, flooding in B.C. and a hurricane season that included the powerful superstorm Sandy.
With files from The Canadian Press