Extreme cold snap set to descend upon Edmonton region starting Christmas weekend

Click to play video: 'Edmontonians frustrated with state of snow-clearing as Phase 2 parking ban remains in place' Edmontonians frustrated with state of snow-clearing as Phase 2 parking ban remains in place
WATCH ABOVE: If your street hasn't been plowed, you might be waiting longer than expected as the residential parking ban remains in effect. But as the snow continues to fall, some of the snow clearing equipment has been re-deployed to main roads. Kim Smith reports on how some residents wish the city would tackle things differently – Dec 23, 2021

Get your block heater cords and heavy winter gear ready, because the temperature is set to drop to the -30s  — and possibly even -40 C territory — in the coming days.

“This cold snap looks to be a doozy,” said Global Edmonton chief meteorologist Jesse Beyer.

“The models have pulled back a little but there is still the chance at some minus 40s in Alberta.”

Beyer said the risk of extreme cold includes the Edmonton region, however, rural areas will likely see lower temperatures than the city itself.

The chance of Edmonton neighbourhoods reaching -40 C is slim, but still possible on Tuesday morning, Beyer said. And that’s without the wild chill.

Read more: What warrants an extreme cold warning in Canada? Depends where you are

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Beyer said the -35 C area is a bit more likely within city limits, but outlying areas may push it as low as -40 C.

When it comes to long-range forecasts, Beyer said nothing is set in stone — that said, the models indicate the cold could be here to stay until New Year’s Eve or into 2022.

“There is starting to be a bit of a signal that this could warm up late next week, but there is also a chance we stay below -25 for 10 to 14 days,” he said, adding the temperature could be back up to the mid-teens by next weekend.

“There’s a lot at play here for this cold snap, including a substantial Arctic high. All in all, moving this thick, dense, dry, cold blob of Arctic air will be a feat for Mother Nature.”

Read more: What warrants an extreme cold warning in Canada? Depends where you are

City of Edmonton snow removal efforts to continue for weeks

The cold weather comes as City of Edmonton road crews are still digging out several recent snowfalls. On Thursday, the city said the Phase 2 parking ban will continue for another four weeks.

“It’s important to note however, it will only impact individual communities for approximately 72 hours at a time,” said Andrew Grant, general supervisor of infrastructure field operations, parks and roads services.

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“This is a longer period of time, as crews will be taking snowpack down to as close as possible to bare pavement.”

The city has crews maintaining both main drags and residential roads right now, and said it is prepared for the cold snap.

“We already have crews out removing the accumulated snow from our main roads and will be adding chip to the sand for traction before the extreme cold temperatures arrive,” Grant said.

“Once the cold temperatures start, we will continue blading and maintaining the roads.”

Click to play video: 'Edmonton snow removal slowed by drivers not moving their vehicles' Edmonton snow removal slowed by drivers not moving their vehicles
Edmonton snow removal slowed by drivers not moving their vehicles – Dec 16, 2021

Preparing to drive during the extreme cold

The Alberta Motor Association says when extreme cold arrives, it receives requests for roadside assistance every 40 seconds and calls about dead batteries can spike by six times the usual number.

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Read more: Too many Albertans are not preparing their vehicles for winter: AMA survey

The AMA has these tips to prepare for the cold weather:

  • Prior to driving, plug in your vehicle for three to four hours when the outdoor temperature is -15 C or below
  • Winter tires will give you much better traction on snow and ice, helping you stop sooner and maintain more control
  • Ensure your tires are properly inflated. Most tires lose one pound per square inch for every 5 C drop in temperature
  • Consider switching to synthetic oil for the winter months. It’ll reduce the wear and tear on your engine and help it turn over in frigid temperatures
  • Ensure your gas tank is at least half full and consider using gas-line antifreeze if your vehicle frequently moves from warm to cold environments (e.g. a heated garage to outdoor parking lot)
  • Carry an emergency roadside kit. This should include things like a blanket, warm clothing, caution triangles, a flashlight, gloves, and a folding shovel. Hand sanitizer and a face mask are also good to include during the pandemic

As harsh winter temperatures settle in for the season, paying attention to the health of your vehicle battery is important and reduces the risk of it failing.

Signs of a weak battery include:

  • Headlights dim while idling
  • Frequent boosts/not holding a charge
  • Vehicle slow to turn over
  • Engine cranks but doesn’t start

Cold safety tips for those who work outdoors

While some people can hunker down and get through the cold snap from the comfort of their own home or office, some workers have no choice but to brave the elements.

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Extreme cold is a workplace hazard and on Thursday the Alberta government reminded employers they need to take steps to help their employees avoid risks such as severe cold stress and hypothermia.

“Cold weather is a fact of life in Alberta and can affect workplace health and safety. I encourage employers and workers to work together to minimize the risks of cold temperatures so that everyone can return home safely at the end of the shift,” Labour and Immigration Minister Tyler Shandro said.

What employers can do:

  • Add a heater or heated shelter to the work site
  • Implement a work/warm-up schedule
  • Shield workers from drafts or wind as much as possible
  • Allow workers extra breaks if needed
  • Educate workers on the hazards of working in the cold and put controls in place to protect them
  • Implement a buddy system so no one works alone

How to stay warm:

  • Use layered or insulated clothing
  • Cover exposed skin
  • Take breaks inside
  • Keep footwear dry
  • Keep moving to generate body heat but avoid sweating

Early warning signs of cold stress:

  • Feeling cold and shivering
  • Having trouble moving fingers, hands and toes, loss of feeling or tingling
  • Frost nip, when the top layers of skin turn white
  • Irritability, confusion or loss of coordination
Click to play video: 'Extreme cold hazards: wind chill, frostbite and hypothermia' Extreme cold hazards: wind chill, frostbite and hypothermia
Extreme cold hazards: wind chill, frostbite and hypothermia – Feb 5, 2019

Help for the homeless during the cold snap

Boyle Street Community Services put out a call for help on Thursday, saying it needed help to to prevent frostbite.

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The organization said with even cold weather fast approaching and COVID-19 restrictions in place, there is reduced shelter capacity — meaning accessing a warm place will be even more difficult for homeless people.

There is an urgent need for additional winterwear, especially for those who are living rough — in tents, for example — and those spending long periods outside, Boyle Street said.

In addition to clothing, Boyle Street is accepting donations to its emergency response fund – which is dipped into during emergencies, including extreme weather.

Read more: Extreme cold hazards: what wind chill is and how cold can lead to frostbite, hypothermia

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