Polar vortex breaks temperature records across Prairies, bitter cold expected to linger

A polar vortex continues to bring bitter cold to the Prairies, resulting in the cancellation of schools and buses in all major Prairie cities.

Environment Canada has issued a cold weather warning for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba

A person in a parka walks on a city path in very cold winter weather as fog rises from a river in the background. The fog partially obscures a bridge.
A pedestrian walks by River Landing beside the South Saskatchewan River during an extreme cold warning in Saskatoon, Sask. in this file photo from Jan. 25, 2021. As of Monday, the three Prairie provinces are under an extreme cold warning that is expected to last until next week. (Kayle Neis/The Canadian Press)

A polar vortex continues to bring bitter cold to the Prairies, resulting in cancellations of schools and buses in all major Prairie cities.

A mass of cold air arrived on Sunday, setting daily temperature records in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

According to Environment Canada, 22 cold-weather records were broken throughout the three provinces.

The coldest temperature was recorded in Uranium City, about 1,045 kilometres northwest of Regina, where it was –48.9 C, breaking a previous record of –40 C set in 2019. 

In Alberta, the lowest temperature was recorded in Fort Chipewyan, about 710 km northeast of Edmonton, where it was –47.3 C, breaking the previous record of –45.6 C set in 1936.

Edmonton International Airport was close to breaking a daily record. The temperature reached a low of –43.8 C, with the previous record set on the same day in 1994 at –43.9 C. 

In Manitoba, the temperature was a bit higher — but not by much. The community of Roblin, about 405 km northwest of Winnipeg, set a new record of –42 C, breaking the previous record of –40.6 set in 1972. 

WATCH | Polar vortex delivers frigid temperatures to Prairies:

Polar vortex delivers frigid temperatures to much of Canada

3 years ago
Duration 1:47
Featured VideoA polar vortex is being felt across the Prairies, two months later than usual but the frigid temperatures were in between –40 C and –50 C in some provinces. Ontario is expected to be in a deep freeze later this week.

Bone-chilling cold here to stay 

Monday will be another brutal day of bone-chilling temperatures for the Prairies. 

Environment Canada has issued an extreme cold weather warning for most of Alberta and Manitoba and for the entire province of Saskatchewan. 

"An Arctic ridge of high pressure has allowed for a very cold air mass to settle over southern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba," the weather agency said on its website. 

Saskatoon is under an extreme cold weather warning, as is the rest of the province. (Submitted by Colin Chatfield)

Along with winds of 10 to 20 km/h, extreme wind chill values between –40 and –50 are expected over most of southern Saskatchewan. 

In Alberta, including Edmonton and Calgary, temperatures will feel like –55 with the wind chill factored in.

Environment Canada says the bitterly cold air will remain over the Prairies for much of the next week.

Schools, buses cancelled throughout Prairies 

Aside from bringing in record-low temperatures, the bitter cold has also brought many students a day off. 

Buses have been cancelled by school divisions in major Prairie cities including Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon and Edmonton

Parked school bus
Buses were cancelled by school divisions in major cities across the Prairies. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Most school buses do not run if temperatures feel like –40 to –45 with the wind chill, depending on the division.

Additionally, several school divisions throughout Alberta and Manitoba have closed schools or cancelled classes, citing safety concerns brought on by the cold. 

In Saskatchewan, schools remain open.

Send us your photos of your frozen faces (and other shots that show how cold it is) and we might feature your work on CBC Television, online, or CBC's social platforms:

Watch boiling water freeze in cold air as polar vortex descends on Prairies

3 years ago
Duration 0:30
Featured VideoLaura Lee Gardiner shared this video capturing just how frigid it is in Saskatchewan. In fact, Buffalo Narrows, Sask., set a new cold weather record of -46.4 C.