2-3 hour wait for boosts from CAA as extreme cold hits Saskatchewan

An extreme cold warning is covering the province, and it's going to get even colder in the next 24 hours.

Entire province under extreme cold warning

All of Saskatchewan is under an extreme weather warning, according to Environment Canada. (Matt Howard/CBC)

An extreme cold warning is now covering all of Saskatchewan.

These extreme temperatures are due to an arctic air mass hovering over the province, produced extreme wind chill values of –40 to –46 Wednesday morning.

According to Environment Canada, these extreme wind chill values will improve slightly throughout Wednesday.

However, wind chill values are expected to dip dangerously low Wednesday night. Some areas in the southern portion of the province will see values as low as –50. That area starts around Saskatoon and extends all the way to the southern border.

For Wednesday, Regina's daytime high is expected to reach –27 C and dipping down to –35 C overnight. 

Seasonal temperatures for this this time of year for Regina are usually –11 C for a daytime high and –23 C overnight lows.

Wednesday morning in Saskatoon, the wind chill hit –52. The record wind chill in Saskatoon for Jan. 15 is –59 set in 1954. 

The overnight low of -38.9 C was a few degrees warmer than the record low for Jan. 15 of -43.9 C, set in 1907. 

Some areas in the southern portion of the province will see wind chill values as low as –50 Wednesday night. (CBC: WSI)

A few areas in the province hit record lows on Tuesday, including Lloydminster, Assiniboia, Lucky Lake, Last Mountain Lake and Kindersley.

The intense cold is a result of a cross-polar flow. Air is that is usually over Siberia is currently being pushed into Western Canada and causing this extreme cool down.

The long-range forecast for the province says below seasonal temperatures will stick around until at least Monday, when a break is going to bring a significant warm-up. 

While the extreme cold warnings are in effect, Environment Canada is reminding people to watch for cold-related symptoms including shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle pain and weakness, numbness and colour change in fingers and toes. Frostbite can develop within minutes on exposed skin, especially with a wind chill.

Cold air that usually sits over Siberia is being pushed into Western Canada, causing the extreme cold in Saskatchewan. (CBC: WSI)

Some schools cancelled bus service Wednesday due to the cold. The Regina Catholic School Division has cancelled its paratransit buses and the Saskatoon Catholic School Division and Saskatoon Public School buses were also cancelled Wednesday.

The Canadian Automobile Association says all major areas including Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Prince Albert are experiencing a two- to three-hour wait to get a vehicle boosted. CAA Saskatchewan is reminding people to stay warm while waiting for a boost and that waiting in your car can be a temporary source of shelter from the cold and wind.

SaskPower spokesperson Joel Cherry said the province came close on Tuesday to hitting an all-time power usage record.

"Our all-time record was set in late 2017 and that was 3,792 megawatts of demand," Cherry said. "On Tuesday evening we were up to 3,722 megawatts. So we're within 70 megawatts of reaching that peak load record that we set a couple of years ago."

Power usage typically spikes around the dinner hour, he said, as household power use rises and there is still a lot of demand from industrial customers.

Cherry said there are small things you can do to cut down on your power usage, like using timers for block heaters on cars, not opening the oven while you're cooking, and making sure you use the right-sized pot for a burner.

"Generally speaking, if you use smaller appliances that will use less power. A microwave oven is going to use a lot less electricity than a regular oven," he said.

"If you have a wood stove or a fireplace, that's a great way to heat your house without paying as much power as well." 


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