Albertans could be smacked by lows of –37 C and as much as 50 cm of snow within days

Bundle up, Alberta! Temperatures are expected to plunge from a high of 6 C in some areas of the province on Thursday to lows of –30 C on the weekend and as much as 50 centimetres of snow in some regions.

Temperatures could dip to –37 C on the weekend, with up to 50 cm of snow in some areas

Extreme cold is forecast for Alberta this weekend, and central parts of the province could be hit with heavy snow. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Bundle up, Alberta! Temperatures are expected to plunge from a high of 6 C in some areas of the province on Thursday to lows of –30 C on the weekend and as much as 50 centimetres of snow in some regions.

"It looks like the start of February is going to be quite cold," said Environment Canada meteorologist Kyle Fougere.

"It looks like things warm up a little bit toward the middle of next week, but it's going to be quite a bit colder than we've experienced for most of January." 

On Friday, wind gusts up to 40 km/h are expected, carrying cold temperatures that will push the mercury down to –16 C in the afternoon in Calgary.

The wind chill will make it feel like –22.

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The cold will then continue through the weekend and into next week, plunging in Calgary and area to forecast lows of –27 C at night for Saturday, Sunday and Monday. During the day, it'll be only slightly warmer, according to Environment Canada: highs of –18 on Saturday, –23 on Sunday and –24 on Monday.

Then it will warm up, slightly, with a forecast high of –20 C on Tuesday and –10 C on Wednesday.

It could be even colder elsewhere. Some northern parts of the province, like High Level and Fort McMurray, may plunge to lows of around –37 by Sunday or Monday night.

Edmonton could be shivering with a low of –31 C expected by Monday night. The city should see a high of –18 C on Saturday, –24 C on Sunday and Monday, then –20 C on Tuesday and –14 C on Wednesday. 

Might see up to 50 cm of snow

A winter storm warning is also in effect for the Hinton and Grande Cache area over the next few days.

"The system that's coming through this weekend is going to drop a lot of snow over Alberta, but it's mostly going to be in central Alberta, so ... 15 to 30 centimetres all across central Alberta," said Fougere.

"West toward the foothills near Grande Cache could see up to 40, even 50 centimetres of snow. So it's going to be a really potent system, but most of the snow stays north of Calgary. 

"So if you have plans to travel this weekend from Calgary, heading north or west, really pay attention to the weather."

Much of Canada is being hit this week with winter weather as extreme cold warnings are in effect for most of Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, while winter storm warnings are in place over much of Saskatchewan and parts of British Columbia.

AMA sends 'urgent' reminder to plug in vehicles

The Alberta Motor Association (AMA) has issued an "urgent reminder" for drivers to plug in their vehicles so they don't get stranded.

"In extreme cold, calls about dead batteries spike more than any other roadside service, often representing more than 40 per cent of requests (versus 26 per cent on a normal winter day)," the AMA said in a release. 

  "In fact, during a 2017 snowstorm, AMA saw more battery problems in a week than we'd typically log in a full winter month."

The AMA says 72 per cent of Albertans don't plug in their vehicles at the recommended temperature of –15 C.

If you plug in, remember it's a bylaw violation to string a cord over a city sidewalk in both Calgary and Edmonton, among other communities.

'We've been kind of lucky'

The cold comes after an unusually warm past number of weeks.

"December and January were both about 3½ degrees warmer than normal, and January is typically our coldest month, so we're lucky to have got through that portion so far," said Fougere.

"The arctic air has been around, it just hasn't really moved through Alberta too much. We've been kind of lucky. The average this time of year is to have a high of –1 C and a low of –13 C ... so get out and enjoy it while you can today."


Dave Dormer

Former CBC digital journalist

Dave Dormer worked with CBC Calgary from 2016 to 2019. A graduate of the SAIT photojournalism program, Dave has worked in print and television newsrooms across western Canada.


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