Longest cold spell in over 20 years comes to an end in Calgary

File Photo.
File Photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Late Saturday night the temperature made it up to -7 C in Calgary, the warmest it has been in that city in almost two weeks.

It was a welcome relief to many who have felt like the cold weather went on for far too long.

That sentiment is understandable considering this particular stretch of frigid temperatures was the longest one since Ralph Klein was in his first term as premier, Toy Story (the original) was top at the box office and men and women were trying to figure which planet they belonged to thanks to best-selling author John Gray, PhD.

Arctic air first settled over Alberta Dec. 4, 2016, and didn’t leave for another 13 days. From Dec. 5 to Dec. 17, 2016 the temperature did not get above -7 C in Calgary. The average temperature, or daily mean, was between -14.4 to -23.3 C, and the lowest temperature was almost -27 C. Wind chill values made it feel like it was between -13 to -34 .

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READ MORE: It has not been this cold in Calgary in over 1,000 days

The last time Calgary went that long with temperatures that cold was over 20 years ago.

From Jan. 14 to Feb. 3, 1996 there were 21 days  in a row where the daily mean temperature was below -14.8 C. Those few weeks, as people celebrated George Burns’ 100th birthday and were taping their favourite shows on VHS machines, the temperature bottomed out at -36 C with wind chill values making it feel as cold as -43. The mean temperature ranged from -14.8 C to -31.8 C.

The average temperature in Calgary is around -1 to -2 C for a daily high and -13 to -14 C for a low temperature in early December to early February.

 Could be worse

Extreme cold warnings have plagued the prairies over these past couple of weeks. Those warnings are issued by Environment Canada when temperatures are expected to sit around -30 to -35 C with wind chill values around -40. Folks in Fort McMurray bottomed out at -41 C Dec. 17, with a wind chill making it feel closer to -51.

This arctic air mass that has dominated most of Canada and the United States is finally going to move on as the weather pattern starts to shift to allow warm pacific air in. Highs will get above seasonal for most of the week in Calgary and much of central and southern Alberta.

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Some parts of Canada are going to take longer to recover as this system continues to track east, and moisture still moves in on the west coast.

READ MORE: Canada feels full force of winter as bone-chilling cold, heavy snowfall set in

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