Cold snap affects everything from businesses to personal health in Lethbridge

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Alberta cold snap affects everything from businesses to personal health
Brutal cold is affecting everything this week – from business to personal health. Brandon Cassidy has more – Jan 10, 2024

The polar vortex that is affecting Alberta has impacted businesses and personal health of Lethbridge residents.

Experts in Lethbridge are telling residents to stay indoors and warm ahead of frigid temperatures this week.

An extreme cold warning has been issued for all of Alberta on Wednesday.

An update from Environment Canada said a long period of extremely cold temperatures and wind chills is beginning as a polar vortex sweeps south.

A polar vortex is a mass of freezing air that exists all year long and typically spins clockwise over the North Pole.

When it weakens, the circulation can be disrupted and split — sending a section south to spread frigid temperatures over parts of North America.

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Temperatures will drop to near -30 C Wednesday night with wind chills of -40. Over the weekend, morning temperatures will reach -40 C and the wind will make it feel like -50 C.

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Deputy Fire Chief Kevin McKeown said Edmontonians should limit their time outside if possible. The frigid temperatures means frostbite is a big risk.

“Limiting your time outside if you have the ability to do that. Make sure you’re taking breaks and finding somewhere indoors to get in and warm up if you’ve been outside for some time,” McKeown said.

“The great risk with the windchills that we’re going to be seeing in the -40s … Frostbite can happen very quickly and we’re looking at ten minutes or less on exposed skin.”

Warming centers in places and services like streets alive are having to adapt to help in other ways.

Co-founder of Streets Alive Mission Ken Kissick said, “Today, instead of closing like we normally do … We stayed open. We gave the soup kitchen a heads up and we provided some soup.”

And on days like today that extra hour makes a difference.

“We’ll see an extra 20 to 30 people at that time,” said Kissick.

The severe cold is likely to only stay for this week but is causing havoc even on some businesses.

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Nikka Yuko’s marketing and events manager Eric Granson explained the garden’s decision to close during the cold snap.

“Being outside in -25 C or below weather isn’t necessarily fun for anyone. We don’t really want to cause any issues so we definitely would like to close in that regard,” he said.

Although the garden will only be shut down for this week, the culture center will remain open for customers and patrons.

Conditions are being monitored by the city and their partners, to ensure people are safe.

“We’ll be watching Environment Canada for those updates as they come out and we’ll be prepared to act further if that happens,” explained McKeown.

–With files from Karen Bartko, Global News.

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