Dangerous wind chills seize southern Manitoba

A number of southern Manitoba communities are in the clutches of some deep, dangerous cold weather.

Temperatures are below –30 C but the wind chill makes it feel colder than –40

A woman walks in a haze of exhaust and breath fog in downtown Winnipeg on Wednesday. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

A number of southern Manitoba communities are in the clutches of some deep, dangerously frigid weather.

Temperatures are below –30 C but wind chills are making it feel colder than –40. Exposed skin will freeze in about 10 minutes at those levels.

As of 10:30 a.m. some wind chills were:

  • Winnipeg airport –40.
  • Brandon –42.
  • Emerson –35.
  • Deerwood –36.
  • Richer –39.
People wait inside a frosty bus shelter in Winnipeg on Wednesday, when the temperature outside was -28 C with a wind chill that made it feel more like -39. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

Environment Canada had issued an extreme cold warning for a large part of southern Manitoba but lifted it around 10:30 a.m. for all areas but those around the Brandon region.

And here's something you're not going to hear very often — Churchill is Manitoba's hot spot.

The northern town on the shore of Hudson Bay, known for its polar bears, is at –19.8 C (although the wind chill makes it feel more like –31). At 10 a.m., the coldest place, not just in Manitoba but all of Canada, was Carman at –34 C (with a wind chill of –42).

Dangerous wind chills seize southern Manitoba

5 years ago
A number of southern Manitoba communities are in the clutches of some deep, dangerously frigid weather. 1:47

It is expected there will be some slight relief from those bitter temperatures during the afternoon but wind chills are still expected to be in the –30 to –35 range. The extreme wind chills are likely to redevelop again tonight if the skies remain clear, Environment Canada says.

And the deep freeze is likely to last for the rest of the week, easing up on the weekend.

Demand at homeless shelters

The cold has made Winnipeg's homeless shelters exceptionally busy. A spokesperson for Siloam Mission said all 110 beds have been full most of the winter but the demand now far exceeds the supply.

The centre will keep its drop-in centre open all day during the cold snap for people who need to find respite. The centre usually closes for two hours in the afternoon for cleaning.

Siloam is also working with other shelters to find room for those they can't take in.

The Salvation Army in Winnipeg intends to send out its rescue vehicle tonight, for the first time since the agency acquired it from their brethren in Thunder Bay.

Blizzard the polar bear enjoys some arctic weather at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo on a cold Jan. 4. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

The converted ambulance will patrol the streets and take in homeless people caught outside in extreme weather. It will have scarves, mitts and coffee and provide a place where people can warm up, said executive director Major Rob Kerr.

The first run will go between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Although the vehicle arrived a few weeks ago, it hasn't been out yet because there was a staff shortage during the Christmas holidays. Also, the weather until now was mild enough that the need wasn't as urgent, Kerr said.

Civic facilities offer respite 

The City of Winnipeg is also inviting the public to use civic facilities as warm-up centres during regular operating hours.

The facilities include city hall (open weekdays), Winnipeg Public Libraries, civic swimming pools and leisure centres.

For regular operating hours, check the city's website or contact the information line by phoning 311 or by emailing:

How to avoid frostbite and hypothermia

Always wear clothing appropriate for the weather. Synthetic and wool fabrics provide better insulation than other material. Some synthetic fabrics are designed to keep perspiration away from your body, keeping you dry and further reducing your risk.

The Salvation Army rescue vehicle seats six in the back and will be used to give people living on the streets a place to warm up. It will also transport homeless people to shelters. (John Einarson/CBC)

Dress in layers with a wind-resistant outer layer. You can remove layers if you get too warm (before you start sweating) or add a layer if you get cold.

Wear warm socks, gloves or mitts, a hat and a scarf in cold weather. Be sure to cover your nose to protect it.

If you get wet, change into dry clothing as soon as possible. You lose heat faster when you're wet.

Winnipeg forecast for Jan. 4

  • High –21 C.
  • Mix of sun and cloud and very cold.
  • Wind west 10 km/h.
  • Mainly clear tonight.
  • Low –29 C.

Normal temperatures for this time of year are a daytime high of –13 C and an overnight low of –23 C.

John Sauder's extended weather forecast for Winnipeg. (John Sauder/CBC)


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