Deep freeze digs claws into most of Manitoba and will stay through weekend

Another blistering cold air mass has engulfed virtually all of the province with wind chills of -30 to -40 C in the south and -50 in the north.

But despite extreme cold warning, NYE party will go on at The Forks

Winnipeggers and most Manitobans are facing another round of extremely cold temperatures. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

Misery loves company and there's a lot of company in Manitoba these days.

Another blistering cold air mass has engulfed virtually all of the province with wind chills of –30 to –40 C in the south and –50 in the north. It's not expected to get any better any time soon, according to the CBC Forecast Centre.

If you need to go outside, bundle up and get shelter whenever you can. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

A fresh blast of frigid arctic air will pass into southern Manitoba tonight and temperatures will plummet to –30 or lower, pushing the wind chills to around –45 in Winnipeg overnight.

The extremely cold conditions will remain through the weekend, with highs of just –27 in Winnipeg on Saturday and Sunday, CBC meteorologist John Sauder says.

Warm up at city facilities

The City of Winnipeg invites people to warm up inside civic facilities — city hall, public libraries, swimming pools and leisure centres — during regular operating hours.

The areas in red are under an extreme cold warning. (Environment Canada)

For operating hours, check the city's website or contact 311 by phone or email (

One facility that is open 24 hours is the police service headquarters at Smith Street and Graham Avenue downtown. There is a vestibule at the front where anyone can press the buzzer to get assistance.

"If anyone downtown finds themselves cold, you can head over to the headquarters building and gain access there," said police spokesman Const. Jay Murray. 

The city also urges anyone who sees someone in need of assistance due to the cold to contact 911 immediately and to stay with the person until emergency workers arrive.

If a person phones 911 and leaves, it could take the paramedics longer to find the patient, said Jay Shaw, the city's emergency preparedness co-ordinator. 

Older adults and young children should avoid prolonged outdoor exposure to the cold, he said, adding that people should check on older friends, relatives and neighbours who live alone.

"We're Winnipeggers. We're hardy. We want people to look out for each other," Shaw said.

Not too cold to party

Similarly frigid temperatures predicted for Ottawa this weekend led to some of the events planned for the New Year's Eve party on Parliament Hill to be cancelled due to extreme cold.

But here in Winnipeg organizers of the New Year's Eve party at The Forks said as of Friday they are going ahead with the plans despite the nasty weather.

"We're pretty used to having some pretty extreme temperatures — it happens every January and February with our programming — and unfortunately it's happening this year for New Year's Eve," said Chelsea Thomson, manager of marketing and communications with The Forks North Portage Partnership.

"For Winnipeggers, if we cancelled our plans for cold weather, I think we wouldn't do anything all winter long." 
Chelsea Thomson of The Forks says none of this year's New Year's Eve events have been cancelled due to the weather. (CBC)

This year's fireworks show at The Forks will include a dance party at the festival rink (by the Winnipeg sign) with DJs performing, before a pyrotechnic show starts at 8 p.m. and the fireworks go off at midnight.

Thomson says those coming out for the activities should double-check The Forks' website to make sure everything is still going ahead as planned.

She says free horse-drawn wagon rides planned from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, may have to be cancelled or shortened if it's too cold for the horses.

And if it gets too cold for humans, Thomson says chilly folks can come into The Forks to warm up throughout the night.

'We are tougher'

The extreme cold didn't stop Winnipeggers from heading down to The Forks Friday.

Colin Bock called the frigid temperatures intimidating.

"But I've had enough and today I said I'm not going to let the weather get the best of me," he told CBC News, adding he was surprised by how many other people were at The Forks, too. "I don't know what it is but we don't let the weather get the best of us."
Colin Bock says he went to The Forks Friday because he won't let the frigid temperatures intimidate him this winter. (CBC)

Bock says the secret is to dress in layers.

"I've got three layers of wool on underneath this down jacket and three layers on the legs and I'm toasty."

It's a technique Violet Berard practices too — she was also wearing three layers as she stopped at The Forks to get a cup of coffee.

But she admitted to having a second secret to surviving winter's worst — she says she loves the cold.

"I'm one of those weirdos," she laughed. "I prefer the cold and I don't find it that bad today."

As for why Ottawa is cancelling New Year's Eve events while Winnipeg braves the temperatures to party, Berard had a quick answer.

"We are tougher," she said.

Ron Saper and his daughter Katelyn Saper, 10, are from Ottawa but are visiting family in Winnipeg over the holidays.

The pair spent the day skating at The Forks and Katelyn says she thinks Winnipeg is even colder than Ottawa.

"It's really cold," she said. "We were skating here for a while and it was really cold — I can't feel my hands."
Ron Saper and Katelyn Saper, 10, are from Ottawa and are in Winnipeg visiting family. Katelyn says Winnipeg is even colder than Ottawa. (CBC)

While he wouldn't  go as far as saying Winnipeggers are tougher than revellers in Ottawa, Ron had to admit Winnipeggers do seem to be uniquely hardwired for the cold.

"I think Winnipeg people are pretty tough," he said.

Via Rail cancellations

The cold also prompted Via Rail to cancel some runs, mostly into northern Manitoba.

A spokesperson said on Dec. 27, train 693 from Winnipeg to Gillam was cancelled. The domino effect means train 694 on Dec. 29, from Gillam to Thompson, has also been cancelled, as has train 695 from Thompson back to Gillam that same night.

The Dec. 30 train 690 from Gillam to The Pas is also cancelled.

Things get back on track by Dec. 31 with train 691 from The Pas to Gillam, and on Jan. 1, 2018, everything should be back to normal with train 692 from Gillam to Winnipeg.

The deep freeze isn't stopping Winnipeggers from ringing in the new year

5 years ago
Duration 2:01
On cold days like today your skin exposed to air can freeze in under 10 minutes. But that's not stopping the Forks or Winnipeggers from ringing in the new year.