snowcrash

Icy conditions caused dozens of car accidents in southern Manitoba on Thanksgiving weekend. ((CBC))

An arctic air mass brought record cold temperatures across parts of Alberta early Monday, topping off a frosty and snowy Thanksgiving weekend for much of the Prairies.

Temperatures dropped to –16.1 C in Calgary early Monday, breaking the day's previous record, from 1928, by about three degrees. Just three weeks ago Calgary broke a warm-weather record when the thermometer peaked at almost 33 C — the hottest day of 2009.

But after a balmy September, temperatures in early October have swung to the other extreme across the Prairies, especially in Alberta, where the mercury in at least seven locations broke records with overnight lows.

It was for many the coldest Thanksgiving weekend in 50 years. At Sandy Beach Lake, 65 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, snowmobiler Shane Verbeek, 30, of Calahoo fell through the ice Sunday and a search for the missing man continued into Monday.

Banff shattered its previous Oct. 12 record cold of –14 C by dropping eight degrees to –22, and Waterton dipped 7.7 degrees below its former record of –16.6.

To blame for the unusual cold was a mass of arctic air that descended from the Northwest Territories, bringing unexpected subzero and snowy conditions to Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Subzero daytime temperatures continued Monday across Alberta and Saskatchewan, although the thermometer was expected to return to seasonal norms later in the week. Squalls dumped more snow in Manitoba on Monday.

Highway death

Snow and ice created havoc on highways across Saskatchewan and Manitoba earlier on the holiday weekend, disrupting Thanksgiving plans for many. The collision death of Glenda Faye Bohn, 52, near Neepawa, Man., was attributed to snowy conditions.

Late Friday, snow squalls dumped unexpected white stuff across southern Manitoba, where a nine-car pileup and several other crashes were reported.

Snowfall continued sporadically in the Manitoba capital and environs Monday.

And while some were griping about the early arrival of winter, others were embracing it — taking advantage of the opening of some ski runs at Calgary's Canada Olympic Park.

Spokesman Brendon Arnold said the cold weather has meant a record-breaking start to the ski season.

"This weekend we've actually opened our doors ... the earliest ever here at Winsport Canada Olympic Park," he said. "And we've been continuously making snow for the past couple nights now."

Forecasters predict warmer temperatures across most of the three Prairie provinces later this week.