British Columbia

Extreme cold warnings continue for B.C.'s north and Interior

Environment and Climate Change Canada is maintaining the extreme cold warning it issued Tuesday for most northern and Interior regions.

Wind chills of -40 C expected through Thursday

A road with plowed snow and cars and shops on both sides.
Bernard Avenue in downtown Kelowna, B.C., on Wednesday morning. (Winston Szeto/CBC)

Unseasonably low temperatures will continue across B.C.'s Interior and north Wednesday and Thursday, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Extreme cold warnings are in place across the north and parts of the Interior, including Prince George, the Chilcotin, Quesnel, Williams Lake and Bulkley Valley area, with areas experiencing temperatures below -30 C and wind chills that feel like –40 C.

Warnings are also in place for the southern Interior, including the Okanagan Valley, Thompson, East Kootenay and Similkameen, with residents being warned of "bitterly cold  temperatures and dangerous wind chill values."

Temperatures in Prince George are forecast to increase toward the end of the week.

A wooden statue with the word 'PG' on its body stands in an open space with snow holding a flag.
City mascot Mr. PG stands in Prince George embracing the bitter cold on Tuesday. (Nicole Oud/CBC)

On Wednesday, the city can expect sunny weather with a high of –28 C, a wind chill that feels like –49 C during the daytime and a low of –35 C at night.

Kamloops, Kelowna and Cranbrook are forecast to record daytime highs between –20 C and –23 C on Wednesday morning, with a wind chill that feels like –33 C.

A flock of ducks swim in the big lake, with snow on the shore and mountains and ports in the background.
A flock of ducks swim in Okanagan Lake near Kelowna City Park on Wednesday morning. (Winston Szeto/CBC)

Health risk of extreme cold

Environment Canada is also warning of various health risks to people under extreme cold conditions, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle pain, numbness and colour change in the fingers and toes.

Kelowna General Hospital emergency room physician Dr. Jeff Eppler is reminding people to take precautions against frostbite, an injury caused by the freezing of skin and underlying tissues.

"It's really important to bundle up properly and protect any exposed skin from the wind."

Municipalities across the Interior and north have promised shelter and warming spaces for homeless campers.

Prince George Mayor Simon Yu said on Tuesday that the extreme cold had caught many residents off guard, but the city will ensure there are adequate warm indoor spaces for homeless people.

"This will be my biggest concern," Yu said. "All the warming centres are opening up, and we do have, for the time being ... enough warm shelters for everybody to go to."

The City of Kelowna said it had extended the operating hours of its 24-passenger emergency warming bus at the Rail Trail to 5 p.m.-9 a.m. until Saturday when the current extreme cold weather is expected to end and had also secured 27 insulated tents for campers.

A group of people gather near a building with glass windows, with snow on the road in front of it.
Homeless people gather at the Outreach Urban Health Centre on Leon Avenue in downtown Kelowna, B.C., on Wednesday morning. (Winston Szeto/CBC)

Environment Canada also issued an Arctic outflow warning for the north and central coasts on Wednesday and the rest of the week. It says strong winds between 70 and 100 km/h will combine with low temperatures to create wind chills as low as –25 C.

Prince Rupert can expect sunny weather on Wednesday with a high of –8 C and a wind chill that feels like –20 C.


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