Edmonton

'I can't get it cold enough': Danish tourists embrace Edmonton's cold weather

Asbjoern Baremar and his family came here from Denmark this month to enjoy some authentic winter weather. Asked if the extreme cold has been too much, he said: "You're asking the wrong one. I can't get it cold enough."

Edmonton records coldest February since 1994, meteorologist says

Asbjoern Baremar, and his 10-month-old son Eik get ready to hit the trails at the Victoria Golf Course in Edmonton. (Peter Evans/CBC)

Asbjoern Baremar and his family came here from Denmark this month to enjoy some authentic winter weather.

"We've been hiking, and sleeping in the car with this little kid, without the engine on," said Baremar, who is wrapping up a three-week vacation with his wife, Ria Kruse Olsen, and their 10-month-old son, Eik.

Asked if the extreme cold has been too much for them, Baremar said: "You're asking the wrong one. I can't get it cold enough."

With his son strapped on his back, the Copenhagen native spoke to CBC on Monday while preparing to tackle the cross-country ski trails at the Victoria Golf Course.

Ria Kruse Olsen from Denmark says she suffered frostbite in the first few days of being on the prairies. (Peter Evans/CBC )

The trio touched down in Edmonton on Feb. 2, the very day an arctic cold front walloped the region. The vortex hung around for 14 straight days, the longest regional cold snap recorded in a decade, according to Environment Canada. 

"It's not this cold back home," said Baremar, who allowed that he has slept out in -35 C weather before, while on a trip to Norway.

"It doesn't really feel that cold," Kruse Olsen. "In Denmark, you have a lot more humidity in the air. Here, it's dry so it doesn't really feel as cold as it is."

'I can handle it'

During their trip, the family has visited friends in Whistler, B.C., and Athabasca, Alta. In between, it has been one outdoor adventure after another, included hiking, downhill, and cross-country skiing.

The couple say they've been skiing their whole lives, but skiing in these temps with this windchill is a first.

"I got a little frostbite, and then we had to go out and buy some bigger goggles and a face mask," said Kruse Olsen, whose cheeks were still rosy from her run-in with old man winter. "You really can't ski without covering your face."

Danish tourists Asbjoern Baremar, his wife, Ria Kruse Olsen, left and their 10-month-old son, Eik hit the cross-country ski trails at the Victoria Golf Course. (Peter Evans/CBC)

The hearty Danes aren't alone when it comes to embracing the cold. Others have been taking it in stride, too.

Jai Lee, 69, said he's been out on the trails all month.

"I can handle it," said Lee, who has lived in Edmonton for 40 years. "Weekdays, every day, I'm here or at William Hawrelak Park, or at Goldbar." 

Chris Ring said layering makes the cold tolerable.

"We live in a climate where five or six months of the year it's going to be like this," said Ring.

"For everyone that thinks you're crazy, there's people out here doing the same thing," he said. "I mean, you wave and smile and the crazy people get along I guess." 

Cold weather not done yet 

In truth, the weather this month hasn't been out of the ordinary, said Kyle Fougere, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

"February is our second coldest month in Edmonton. It's not uncommon to get these arctic outbreaks this time of the year.

"I think people aren't used to it, because we had such a warm December and January that now this February feels really, really cold by comparison."

He said this February has been the coldest on record since 1994.

"We haven't hit a lot of our records for the day-time lows. A lot of those are in the –38 C to –40s C. So we haven't hit that really cold morning temperature, but the length of time that we've had this has been very, very long."

So far, the average mean temperature this February has been below –20 C. Not even close to the 1936 record, when the average mean temperature was –27.2 C. 

The cold weather is expected to stick around until mid-March, said Fougere. In the meantime, some short-term relief is expected on Wednesday, when the day-time high is supposed to be a tropical –6 C.

But hold off on the shorts. The mercury is expected to plummet again on Friday.

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