Extreme cold selfies: Northern B.C. bundles up for —45 C weather

Extreme cold in northern B.C. is stopping buses and causing Environment Canada to issue warnings, but it isn't keeping people from their daily routines.

School buses cancelled, warnings issued as temperatures plunge

Deep cold, with temperatures between —30 and —50 C, is forcing people in northern B.C. to either stay inside or, more likely, bundle up to hit the streets.

Extreme cold isn't keeping people in northern B.C. from their daily routines, but it is stopping buses and causing Environment Canada to issue warnings as temperatures plunge.

Portions of northeast and northwest B.C. — including Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson, Dease Lake and Watson Lake, Yukon — are under extreme cold warnings, with temperatures from the mid —30s to —40s, and wind chill values of below —45 C.

On the North Coast, Arctic winds are forecast to blow up to 100 km/h and wind chill values in the mid —30s. 

Meanwhile, other parts of the province are dealing with winter storm warnings and poor travel conditions.

Cold stops school buses

School buses in school districts 59 and 60 in the Peace region have been cancelled due to mechanical difficulties, although schools remain open.

Rastlin Van Spronsen put on a Dawson Creek Speed Skating Club toque for a walk to work in —37 C weather (and a wind chill of below —40 C).

In school district 28 (Quesnel), scheduled bus runs to Nazko Valley Elementary have been cancelled because of cold temperatures, though the school will remain open.

A scheduled ski trip at Carson Elementary School in Quesnel has also been cancelled. 

What weather warnings mean

Environment Canada is advising people in the affected areas to limit outdoor activity and to watch for unusual symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest or muscle pain and numbness or colour change in fingers and toes.

Environment Canada said it bases its extreme cold warnings on what is climatologically normal for an area. While the temperatures of —29 being experienced in Prince George might trigger a notice in more fair-weather locales, such warnings would be issued far too often for areas farther north.

Sean Sharpe is working northeast of Fort Nelson, where the wind chill value hit —45 C. He said he had to unzip his jacket because he got too warm. (Sean Sharpe)

Wind chill is calculated based on measured temperatures and sustained wind speeds. Though it doesn't technically have a temperature, it does affect the cooling effect on human skin and susceptibility to frostbite and hypothermia, which is why it is used.

Cold weather selfies

CBC Radio's Daybreak North, which broadcasts in northern B.C., asked listeners for photos of the cold weather. They received many images of northerners bundling up to face the cold.

Neither Nancy Alexander of Prince George nor Denise Tupman of Terrace let the cold keep them from their daily walks.

Nancy Alexander
Denise Tumpman

Edwina Nearhood said, "There is never bad weather just bad clothing." She took her big parka out to protect her from the —45 wind chill in Fort St. John. 

Lola-Dawn Fennell in Prince George agreed. "Three words for comfort and survival," she wrote. "Wool, hand-knits, and layers!"

Edwina Nearhood
Lola-Dawn Fennell

Fennell also said, "Yes, those are knitting needles in my mittened hand... too cold to knit at the bus stop, but warm enough [to do it] on the bus to work."

With the thermometer showing —37 C in Pinchi Lake in northwest B.C., Laura Sissons decided her dog Liberty could use a little extra warmth.

Liberty the dog

Meanwhile, Lorelle Sunduk's pup couldn't handle the cold on his feet, so she bundled him up for a trip on Prince Rupert's Rushbrook Trail.

Lorelle Sunduk

Toby Hilton's family bundled up to visit the frozen Westach Falls, north of Terrace.

Toby Hilton and family

Derek Pickford is camping out on the roof of the community radio station Peace FM in Chetwynd.

An employee of a local pipeline company, Pickford says he is staying on the roof day and night until he raises $25,000 for local charities. He also said camping in —39 C has given him a new appreciation for the need to provide shelter and support to the homeless.

Derek Pickford
Derek Pickford is camping out on the roof of the community radio station Peace FM in Chetwynd. (Photo courtesy Peace FM/CHET-TV)

Environment Canada said temperatures in northern B.C. are expected to moderate in the afternoon, and warmer forecasts are in place for all regions going into the weekend.

About the Author

Andrew Kurjata


Andrew Kurjata is a radio producer and digital journalist in northern British Columbia, situated in the traditional territory of the Lheidli T'enneh in Prince George.