Alberta hit by record lows as arctic air moves east

Cold, blustery weather is blowing into much of Ontario and Quebec, leaving behind record-shattering temperatures in Alberta, with the wind chill making it feel as cold as –55 in some parts of the province.
The snowy weather has caused countless crashes, including this one on the Coquihalla, submitted to the CBC by Anthony Melder.

Cold, blustery weather is blowing into much of Ontario and Quebec, leaving behind frigid temperatures that have shattered records across Alberta.

On Wednesday, dozens of communities across the province were hit with temperatures below –30 C, and 13 of them were hit with record lows. In the town of Hendrickson Creek, Alta., it was a bone-chilling –41.4.

The frigid temperatures prompted Canada Olympic Park to cancel lessons and close the ski area.

"It gets a little bit too cold and for the safety of our guests and our staff we just feel it's not necessary to open on that [cold] a day," said Dale Oviatt, who works at Canada Olympic Park.

CBC Edmonton meteorologist Stephanie Barsby said the cold arctic air is sinking from north to south.

"So in fact, northern Alberta will see improvement before southern Alberta will," Barsby said.

Sudbury was blanketed with record 20 centimetres of snow on Tuesday. A frosty blast of winter is rolling east on Wednesday and arctic winds are making it feel as cold as -55 in the Western provinces. (Yvon Theriault/CBC)

At the Edmonton airport, temperatures dipped to –34.4 Wednesday, but Barsby said things should improve in the days to come. The city was expected to see small temperature gains over the next couple of days and a big jump going into the weekend  — but with that comes some snow, Barsby said.

The story was similar across much of the Prairies, with temperatures hovering around –25 or below in many parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

In northern Manitoba, the bitter cold forced Via Rail to delay its train service from Churchill to Winnipeg on Tuesday night, leaving it 16 hours behind schedule Wednesday.

Via Rail spokesman Malcolm Andrews said that nighttime temperatures around –30 — which felt more like –50 with the wind chill — caused the delay. Via Rail's service to and from Churchill rarely gets delayed by cold weather, he added.

The cold, blustery weather is blowing east into Ontario and Quebec. Ontario residents near the lower Great Lakes were expected to see temperatures in the –4 to –6 range, while in Ottawa and Montreal the forecast called for a frostier –12, CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe reported Wednesday.

"The story today from pretty much coast to coast is winter has arrived," Wagstaffe said.

By early Wednesday, a fierce freezing rain and wind storm that rolled through Quebec had left more than 80,000 homes and businesses without power. By late Wednesday afternoon Hydro Québec said 10,000 customers remained without power, most of them in Montreal.

Conditions were forecast to be clear for most of Ontario and Quebec, with the chilly temperatures expected to linger for the next couple of days.

"There are some snow squall watches towards Lake Superior, but it's mainly a mix of sun and cloud. Watch for those snow squalls, though," said Wagstaffe.

Warm front moves through Maritimes

Farther east, the Maritimes were expected to see showers and enjoy the last of the warm front before temperatures take a 15-degree plunge in the evening.

"We're still looking at fog across the Maritimes, which is seeing the last of the warm air.… but that cold front is quickly sweeping east," Wagstaffe said.

On P.E.I., islanders were in store for a wild temperature swing. Highs on Wednesday were forecast to hit 6 C, before plummeting to –12 overnight.

Snow in Vancouver, Victoria

Both Victoria and Vancouver saw snow Wednesday morning, making a messy morning commute for many.

The blustery winter weather prompted officials to close many schools in the province's capital, and BC Transit had to take detours on several bus routes early Wednesday. Environment Canada forecast a low of –7 for Victoria overnight, with a chance of flurries through the night and early in the morning.

In the Fraser Valley, winds had "eased somewhat" but were expected to remain gusty through Thursday, Environment Canada said.

The Central Coast and the North Coast were still under an "arctic outflow" warning and could see windchill values of –20 and below, the federal weather agency said.

The wintry weather is also taking a toll in the Northwest Territories, leaving serious damage to the Inuvik airport's roof overnight. The high winds and blowing snow even sent a hot tub drifting down the main street in Inuvik.

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