The term ‘extreme’ has been circulating across the continent as provinces and states experience cold weather, but few places are as cold as the prairies.
Polar Vortex is also a great buzzword, and it has a major impact on the weather and temperatures around a big chunk of the country.
The atmospheric conditions are an upper level low pressure system higher up above the earth’s surface. Around the eastern prairies, a ridge of high pressure has built up, essentially meaning that the eastern prairies are getting a steady stream of air from the top of the world.
Simply put, Manitoba and Saskatchewan are being blasted by air from above the Arctic, making them the coldest places in the country, and quite possibly on the planet.
The coldest place in the country on Wednesday is Key Lake Sask., with an air temperature reading of -47.2 Celsius.
The award for coldest major city in Canada goes to Winterpeg. At 7 a.m. the temperature was -39.8 C and the wind chill was as cold as -52.
Winnipeg has been dealing with colder than normal temperatures for almost two straight weeks. Typically this time of year, temperatures range from -21 C to -11 C. Only once in the last two weeks have temperatures gotten to that point — cold nights below -25 C have become the norm.
Colder than where?
When it gets this cold, it’s hard not to compare to other notable frozen locations, as it turns out, -39.8 C is hard to beat.
The North Pole was expected to hover around -32 C Wednesday.
Siberia, typically the coldest place on earth, will likely deal with light snow and temperatures ranging from -15 to -23 C. The winds there will also be light, so wind chill will not be much of a factor.
Taking it out of our atmosphere, Mars hasn’t given an updated forecast for Wednesday, but expected a high of -7 C Tuesday. Even though the forecasted low was -70 C, an afternoon on the red planet doesn’t sound so bad compared to Winnipeg.
WATCH: Winnipeg’s freezing cold temperatures are colder than Mars
The extended cold snap for around the prairies has broken some records in northern Manitoba but nothing for Winnipeg. Record lows this time of year usually range between -40 and -44 and have typically been set back in the 1880 and 1890s.
Where Winnipeg could break a record is in coldest daily maximum temperature — the coldest “high.” This time of year, the records go back to some of the coldest dates in local memory as recent as 2004 but also 1996 and 1966. They also go back even further for the first days of February back to 1886 and 1891.
WATCH: ‘Polar vortex’ grips major U.S. cities in historic low temperatures
The record on Jan. 30, set in 2004, is -30.8 C. Winnipeg was expecting a high of -31 C Wednesday, so it will be close.
As the weekend approaches, the temperatures around the southern prairies are expected to moderate and start to return closer to normal with these days likely ending up as the coldest of the entire winter.