Extreme cold warnings were issued for parts of Alberta Friday as much of the province heads into a deep freeze for the next week or so.
The far northern parts of the province, including High Level, Wood Buffalo and Fort Chipewyan, were included in Environment Canada’s warning on Friday morning. Extreme cold warnings have been in place on and off for these regions for the past several days.
Wind chill values in the affected areas of northern Alberta are expected to dip to between -40 and -45 overnight Friday and into Saturday morning, according to the weather agency.
“As an Arctic airmass starts to descend southward across Alberta this weekend, warnings will likely need to be expanded,” Environment Canada said.
“An upper trough in the jet stream is allowing Arctic air to migrate south into the Canadian west,” Global Edmonton meteorologis Jesse Beyer said. “The trough will dig in and it looks like we’ll be engulfed by the polar front and remain in the cold for weeks.
“As of Thursday, the core of an Arctic high moving our way was leaving parts of Alaska near -50 C without the wind chill.”
Areas bordering Edmonton were also included in the extreme cold warning Friday morning, which stretched all the way east to Alberta-Saskatchewan border Friday morning.
The warnings were issued due to very cold wind chills near -40 forecasted for the affected areas. The warning for central Alberta was lifted by Friday afternoon.
“Extreme cold puts everyone at risk,” read Environment Canada’s warning. “Cover up. Frostbite can develop within minutes on exposed skin, especially with wind chill.”
At around 7:30 a.m. Friday, the temperature at the Edmonton International Airport was -25 C with a wind chill of -37, according to Global Edmonton weather specialist Mike Sobel.
While the warning was not in place for Edmonton Friday, temperatures are expected to take a dive over the next week.
Friday’s high is expected to reach -15 C, but Sobel said southeast winds will make it feel more like -20 to -30.
“This is the warmest it’s going to be for a number of days,” Sobel said on Friday morning.
Saturday’s high in Edmonton is expected to reach -18 C, but Sobel said “there will be a big change on Sunday.”
“The daytime highs are -25 C to -27 C Monday straight through to Thursday, and the lows are right around -30 C or maybe even a little bit cooler than that.”
Seasonal highs for this time of year are around -8 C, Sobel said.
Because of the extremely cold temperatures, the City of Edmonton opened a portion of Commonwealth Recreation Centre on Thursday night to be used as an emergency overnight shelter.
Change rooms next to the Commonwealth Fieldhouse will have space for 36 people between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., with additional space available in the fieldhouse if needed, the city said Thursday.
The city said it will keep the rec centre open for shelter space as long as is needed to get through the bitter cold. The city will provide three days notice before the space is closed.
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