Southern Albertans are bracing for a stretch of cold weather over the next few days as a blast of arctic air invades all three prairie provinces.
Wind chill warnings are in place for communities across Alberta, including Calgary. For the latest warnings, check out Environment Canada's website. These areas could see wind chill values dip below –40 C, says CBC Calgary's weather specialist Craig Larkins
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“Extremely cold conditions will stick around for the weekend. Overnight lows in Calgary and around southern Alberta will sit between –30 C to –40 C tonight — those are actual temperature's, not wind chill values," said Larkins.
"Forecast highs for both Saturday and Sunday will sit well below the average high of 1 C. Calgary will only warm up to –27 C tomorrow, and will hover in the low –20s on Sunday."
Larkins says these below seasonal temperatures will stick around until the beginning of next week.
"A slight warm-up is expected by Wednesday," he said.
Airdrie firefighters camp out
A trio of firefighters is counting down to the end of the coldest camping trip any of them have ever done.
They set up camp on the roof of a Boston Pizza in Airdrie, Alta., to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy Canada. While the fundraiser isn't new to Alberta, firefighter Ron Poulin says this is the first time Airdrie firefighters have taken part.
"We're crackin' jokes and we're playing some games and just keeping warm. Our focus there, is just keep us motivated to stay up here," said Poulin.
So far, the trio has raised thousands of dollars. They say the challenging part hasn't been raising funds, but staying warm.
"You can tell by the weather forecast it's been cold — chilly. So, we're doing what we can out here with the heaters, the tents, the sleeping bags and everything," said firefighter Kyle McLaughlin.
"Actually, contrary to popular belief, our fire gear is actually meant for heat which doesn't keep us very warm," adds Poulin. "So, actually underneath our jacket here we just have about four layers here — and we just don't take 'em off."
The firefighters have been camping out since Thursday and will be up on the roof until Saturday.
Dog walkers still out
Despite the bitterly cold temperatures, dog owners and their pets are still getting their daily exercise.
A steady stream of cars pulled into the River Park off-leash park today in the southwest.
"I grew up in Calgary, and I don't remember a worse winter — at least temperature wise," said Bill Carver.
He like many other dog owners at River Park say its about layers and keeping one's feet and paws moving.
"They chase balls and chase each other and they seem to be perfectly comfortable," he said about his dog's welfare on the more than hour-long walk.
But not everyone's putting on a brave face.
Calgarians seek warm destinations
One Calgary travel agency reports a 20 per cent jump this winter in the number of bookings to sun destinations.
"The farther south, the warmer destinations, that's what the clients are looking for right now. Into Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, some Hawaii — but definitely a big influx," said travel agent Michael Clark.
He says the increased demand hasn't pushed up the price, but it does mean you are less likely to get last minute deals.
Patricia Stoodley was heading to warmer climates in Costa Rica today.
"I'm tired of the cold. I'm tired of the snow, I've shovelled more snow than I can remember, and it's time for sun and sand."
WestJet adds Palm Springs flights
WestJet is also adding more flights to Palm Springs as more people try to escape winter.
Spokesman Robert Palmer says demand this time of year has steadily grown over the years as more Calgarians buy properties down south.
"We certainly saw a lot of people over the last five or six years in the wake of the U.S. foreclosure crisis purchasing second homes, vacation homes, in places like Phoenix and Palm Springs," he said.
"And so we do see a definite increase in demand in the winter months for people going from Western Canada."
WestJet is now adding a third daily flight to Palm Springs for the last three weekends in March.