British Columbia

-48.5 C in Chilcotin breaks 15-year-old record for coldest Jan. 14

Coldest day of the winter season so far sees highs of -5 C in Metro Vancouver and a frigid morning temperature of -48.5 C in the Chilcotin region.

Extreme cold gripping north, central and eastern parts of British Columbia expected to persist for another day

Metro Vancouver is experiencing the coldest day of the winter season so far. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

A bitterly cold Arctic ridge of high pressure is bringing extreme cold to the north, east and central parts of British Columbia with some regions dipping close to –50 C.

According to Environment Canada, the Chilcotin region registered  –48.5 C Tuesday morning, breaking the previous cold record of –43.4 C for Jan. 14 that was set in 2005 

The entire province of Alberta and parts of Saskatchewan are also under the extreme cold warning issued by Environment Canada, which is expected to persist into Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Metro Vancouverites are getting blasted with the coldest day of the winter season with daytime highs expected to hit –5 C.

Gusty winds from an Arctic outflow will make it feel more like –15 C across parts of Howe Sound and Fraser Valley.

CBC Vancouver meteorologist Brett Soderholm says things will gradually warm up over the next few days. However, more snow is expected Thursday night and again toward the end of the week when it could get really messy. 

"With cold air already in place, this snow will be light and fluffy. However, we could still see anywhere between five to 15 centimetres of it accumulate between Tuesday and Wednesday across the Lower Mainland," he said.

"Later this week, temperatures will be moderating slightly but yet another system is likely to impact the region on Thursday bringing with it more snow or a rain/snow mix."

Snowfall warnings are in place for Vancouver Island, including Victoria, the Southern Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast with 10 to 15 centimetres of snow expected by Wednesday morning.

Environment Canada is warning about rapidly accumulating snow and potentially hazardous driving conditions in those regions.

"Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become difficult to navigate due to accumulating snow," says the alert.

Hydro warning in Haida Gwaii

In Haida Gwaii, the frigid weather has prompted BC Hydro to issue a warning to residents urging them to conserve electricity.

The northwest coast archipelago is one of the few areas of B.C. not covered by Environment Canada's snowfall, extreme cold or Arctic outflow warnings, but the weather office says wind chill makes overnight low temperatures across Haida Gwaii feel close to -16 C.

That is straining the island's two power grids, especially the south grid which provides power to nearly 2,000 customers in Sandspit, Queen Charlotte, Skidegate and Tlell.

In a message posted on the Haida Gwaii Emergency Notification System, BC Hydro warns it is experiencing very high power demand, "which could cause the system to overload and result in outages."

The message urges residents to turn off unnecessary items and to be smart about the amount of power that is being consumed by those appliances and devices that are being used, especially during peak hours around breakfast and dinner.

The Crown utility says conserving electricity will help it "maintain services to all customers and avoid potential delays in restoring power."

With files from Canadian Press

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