Key Lake, Sask. coldest place in Canada as province remains under extreme cold warning

With the entire province of Saskatchewan under an extreme cold warning, people who work outside are facing challenges.

Mild spot –29.9 C in Cypress Hills Provincial Park; cold spot –45.7 C in Key Lake

Ashlyn George finished her cross-country ski in Wildwood, Sask., with Canadian winter mascara. (Submitted by Ashlyn George/@thelostgirlsguide)

With the entire province of Saskatchewan under an extreme cold warning, people who work outside are facing challenges.

Adrienne Ivey, a cattle rancher in Ituna, Sask., said this weather is particularly hard for farmers with cows that are calving.

"As anyone who has had a child before knows, Mother Nature waits for no one and she certainly doesn't wait for warmer weather," Ivey said.

Cattle rancher Adrienne Ivey says Saskatchewan cattle have been bred for cold weather and that they’re comfortable outside as long as they’re shielded from the wind. (Submitted by Adrienne Ivey)

Ivey said that in these temperatures, farmers need to monitor the cows 24-hours-a-day, which sometimes means foregoing sleep.

"If it's somebody that does it all on their own, they are literally, sleep for an hour, get up and check, sleep for an hour, get up and check."

Early Thursday morning, Environment Canada reported the "mild" spot in the province was –29.9 C in Cypress Hills Provincial Park, while the cold spot was –45.7 C in Key Lake, which was the coldest place in Canada.

Saskatoon broke a 112-year-old record on Wednesday with a low of -42.5 C.

In these temperatures, frostbite can occur in minutes.

School buses cancelled

School bus routes in the Prairie Valley School Division, the Regina Catholic School Division and the Regina Public School Division are cancelled for the full day due to the cold weather, along with any planned extra-curricular trips. 

Buses to the Francophone schools of Laval Elementary, Ecole Du Parc and Laval High School are also cancelled. 

All buses are cancelled for Saskatoon Public Schools and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools. Buses in the surrounding Prairie Spirit School Division have also been cancelled. 

Schools are still open.

Cold weather breaks records, delays transit in Prince Albert

The City of Prince Albert broke a cold weather record when it reached a temperature of –44 C this morning. The previous record, –40.6 C, was set in 1895.

The cold created transit delays in the city.

Keri Sapsford, the City of Prince Albert's traffic and transportation manager, encouraged the city's transit passengers to dress for the weather in an emailed statement.

"Passengers are encouraged to be at their stop at the designated stop times, however you may need to wait longer for the bus to arrive," the statement said.

"The bus will arrive, but until we see a break from the extreme cold, delays can be expected."

To the south, cold weather caused the City of Regina to remind people about the Safebus program. 

Meadow Lake also broke a cold weather record, although it wasn't quite as old as Prince Albert's.

Temperatures in Meadow Lake plunged to –46.5 C Thursday, beating the previous low of –39.8 C from 1994.

Saskatoon SPCA sees record number of calls

Saskatoon's cold record on Wednesday prompted the local SPCA to remind pet owners about the dangers such weather presents for four-legged friends.

"Far too many pet-owners are forcing their pets to stay outside during the recent extreme cold weather, and caring citizens have been calling in their concerns for suffering animals to the Saskatoon SPCA in record numbers," a press release issued on Thursday read.

Saskatoon SPCA executive director Patricia Cameron said leaving pets out in temperatures below –15 C leaves them at risk. The same can be said for leaving them in cars at these temperatures.

"Cars act as refrigerators and hold in the cold and can cause animals to freeze to death," Cameron said.

"Leaving your pet unattended in a car at these temperatures is also a violation of the Animal Protection Act."

Warmer winter than normal

Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips said that while this stretch might make you think this is the coldest winter ever, the numbers tell a different story.

"So far this winter is warmer than normal," he said. "January, believe it or not, was almost a degree-and-a-half warmer than normal. December was three degrees warmer than normal."

All of Saskatchewan was under an extreme cold warning on Thursday. (Environment Canada)

He said the cold temperatures are due to a high pressure system coming down from the north and sticking around.

"It just hugs the ground. It's thick; it's dense; you can't kick it out. It's like a bully; it just sits there and won't move. It takes sometimes a Pacific weather stream to kick it out and move it back up north."

Phillips expects the weather to warm up starting early next week, though the temperatures will still be below normal.

Highs for this time of year are usually around –7 but we can look forward to a warm-up closer to –14.


Ashleigh Mattern is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon and CBC Saskatchewan.

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning


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