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'Brutally cold': Extreme weather warnings spread across Canada

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Across the country, Canadians are turning up the thermostat as frigid temperatures and snow squalls creep in.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, as of Thursday morning there were extreme cold or winter storm warnings active from coast to coast, with the harshest extreme cold warnings stretching from northern Alberta all the way to Nova Scotia.

Regions of British Columbia are expecting significant snowfall, with Peace River set to receive 25-50 centimetres by Saturday morning.

In Fort McMurray, Alta., the wind chill will make the air feel like -40 degrees Celsius by Thursday afternoon.

On the other side of the country, residents of Halifax are bracing for an arctic airmass to strike on Friday, bringing with it a windchill value of -35 to -42 C, according to Environment Canada.

A map of alerts and warnings on the agency’s website shows a wide band of red warnings stretching from B.C. to the Atlantic provinces. There are warnings in place across all of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, with the vast majority of Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario covered in winter warnings as well.

This cold snap is in part due to a wave of cold from the Arctic’s polar vortex descending on Eastern Canada between Thursday night and Friday, according to climatologists.

"We'll see temperatures that are really, brutally cold," Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips told CTVNews.ca earlier this week. "It's really a one-and-a-half-day wonder.”

COLD COMING FOR EASTERN CANADA

In New Brunswick, extreme cold warnings project that by Friday it will feel like -35 C to -45 C, lasting into Saturday morning.

The frigid conditions are predicted to clear up in all Maritime provinces sometime on Saturday or by Sunday morning, depending on the region, according to Environment Canada.

A storm off of the coast of Labrador is set to complicate things, bringing gusts of wind reaching up to 50 kilometres per hour to 80 km/h Friday night and into Saturday afternoon.

As of Thursday afternoon, Newfoundland and Labrador is facing a few scattered warnings for blizzards and snowfall, as well as numerous special weather statements regarding the storm. However, they are not yet set to face the same frigid temperatures as the rest of the Atlantic provinces.

ONTARIO, QUEBEC, CENTRAL CANADA SHIVERING

Quebec experienced a mild January, but that’s all set to change with the arctic air heading their way Thursday night. Extreme cold warnings across the southern half of the province project that temperatures could feel between -38 C and -45 C with the wind chill, depending on the region, lasting through Saturday morning.

In Northern Quebec, it could feel like -50 C in some areas.

Montreal is opening two emergency shelters in response to the frigid temperatures, one in the Ville-Marie borough and one in the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough.

Ontario is also preparing to face the cold after a relatively warm January. Ottawa may see its coldest temperatures in years, according to Environment Canada’s projections, with -43 C expected Thursday night and into Friday morning with the wind chill.

In response, Ottawa Public Health has issued a frostbite warning for overnight Thursday. When the temperature reaches -35 C or colder, any exposed skin can freeze in just ten minutes, potentially leading to frostbite.

In the city of Toronto, temperatures could dip below the minus double digits for Friday into Saturday morning. Experts say the city could come close to breaking daily temperature records, with temperatures expected to dip close to -25 C, which was the record set for Feb. 3 in 1955.

Snow squalls are also expected in several regions in Ontario, including in Ottawa, Peterborough and Waterloo, among others.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan are also dealing with chilly conditions. In Manitoba, extreme cold warnings cover almost the entire province, with the temperature in Winnipeg set to dip near -30 C on Thursday and feel like -40 C with the wind chill.

Northern Saskatchewan is currently under numerous extreme cold warnings, but is expected to begin to warm up throughout Thursday.

This warming trend should stretch into Manitoba on Friday. 

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