Edmonton

AMA sees record call numbers as extreme cold continues in Alberta

With most of the province under an extreme cold warning, the Alberta Motor Association says it has received a record number of calls for service.

Thousands of requests for roadside assistance have poured in since temperatures plunged on weekend

Fog hangs over the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton on Tuesday morning. (Gaetan Lamarre/CBC)

With most of the province under an extreme cold warning, the Alberta Motor Association says it has received a record number of calls for service.

The AMA has received more than 31,000 requests for roadside assistance since temperatures plunged on the weekend, the organization said Tuesday in a news release.

In rural areas, calls about dead batteries are up nearly nine times the average, while Edmonton and Calgary have seen five-and-a-half times the usual volume of such calls.

Additional dispatchers, call centre staff, and service vehicle operators have been called in to help, the AMA said.

"It's all hands on deck across the province to get motorists and their vehicles to safety," the news release said.

Edmonton police have taken to social media to ask drivers to use more caution during extremely cold weather.

"Know what's bone-chilling besides the frigid temps in YEG? The huge # of collisions in our city," police said in a Twitter post.

Police urged motorists to "change up normal driving and drive for the extreme winter road conditions."

There were 518 collisions reported in Edmonton between 4 p.m. Friday and midnight Sunday, EPS spokesperson Scott Pattison said in an email.

Police also reminded drivers not to leave vehicles idling, unlocked or with keys inside. More than 50 vehicles were reported stolen in the city last weekend, one-third of which were left idling, unlocked with the keys inside, police said Tuesday in a news release. 

"This story never ends well," Sgt. Ian Smith said in a statement. "It's absolutely a crime of opportunity, and one that can be avoided by not leaving your vehicle running, unlocked and unattended. The last thing you and your family want to deal with during extreme winter weather is car shopping."

Tuesday was the fourth consecutive day of extreme cold warnings for the Edmonton area. The Environment Canada warnings have since expanded and currently include most of the province.

"Cold arctic air remains entrenched across much of Alberta," the warning said. "Windchills between -40 and -50 will continue this morning before moderating this afternoon and then returning overnight into Wednesday. The cold arctic air is expected to remain through till Thursday."

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