Cold surge continues to have tight grasp on Alberta

Click to play video: 'Edmonton weather forecast: Tuesday, December 20, 2022'
Edmonton weather forecast: Tuesday, December 20, 2022
Here's meteorologist Jesse Beyer's Tuesday, December 20, 2022 evening weather forecast for Edmonton, Alberta and the surrounding area. – Dec 20, 2022

Extreme cold warnings continue to wreak havoc across Alberta as the start of winter solstice approaches.

Tuesday morning, commuters were met with frigidly cold temperatures as Environment and Climate Change Canada said extremely cold wind chill values of -40 or colder would continue through the week.

As of the noon hour, the Alberta Motor Association said wait times for a tow in Calgary were 73 hours. Edmonton was around 68 hours, while Red Deer and Lethbridge hovered around 10 and four hours, respectively, for a tow.

“The extreme cold has caused a spike in requests for roadside assistance, with thousands more calls than we typically see this time of year,” Brandon Klassen, with Automotive Services at AMA said in a news release.

The organization said, as of Tuesday morning, calls for a tow were seven times the normal volume.

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Meantime, 511 Alberta had a good portion of roads surrounding the Edmonton area listed as partly snow-covered. Whereas roads on the west side of Calgary are also partly snow-covered with the other roads listed as dry.


A stretch of Highway 40 between Highway 541 to Highway 742 was closed due to weather conditions at noon, according to the online map.

Some tips AMA advised for motorists to think about prior to heading out on the road during the winter months include:

  • Plug in your vehicle for three to four hours before driving;
  • Limit your driving during cold periods and dress for the weather. A quick trip to the grocery store can be dangerous if your vehicle breaks down and you’re left in the cold without proper winter attire;
  • Ensure your gas tank is at least half full and your mobile phone is charged, and always carry an emergency roadside kit. This should include things like a blanket, warm clothing, caution triangles, a flashlight, gloves, and a folding shovel;
  • Scan the road ahead and maintain a safe following distance that allows for adjustments. When the roads are icy or snowy, this means at least four to six seconds;
  • Drive to the weather, keeping in mind that the posted speed limit refers to ideal conditions; and,
  • If you find yourself broken down at the roadside, please get to a warm, safe place as soon as possible.

“We’re working hard to get to members as quickly and safely as possible. While the snow and wind blowing in with the cold temperatures slow down traffic, the added weather conditions also increase the risk faced by workers at the roadside,” Klassen added.

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He said anytime a driver sees flashing amber — or blue and amber — lights activated on a stopped tow truck, to slow down and move over to provide a full lane of clear space.

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“We’re asking everyone to please give tow truck operators the space they need to help broken down motorists safely,” Klassen said.

Warming centres

For the first time in Calgary this winter, mobile warming tents are set up at locations twice daily around the city.

Hooria Ansari is with the Salvation Army, and in cooperation with the Calgary Homeless Foundation, they do everything they can to provide warm compassionate care.

Warming tent in Calgary, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Global News

“A lot of the folks we try to engage and see if there’s a way to support them into permanent shelter and we just want them to get somewhere warm,” Ansari said.

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The mobile tents are equipped with heat lamps and provide hygiene products, warm coffee and warm food as well as clothing.

“We try to visit c-train stations, we are at two locations a day as well as out in Forest Lawn,” Ansari said.

Warming tent in Calgary, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Global News

Mischa Nagtalon helps run the warming centre at the Wood’s Homes Inglewood location. Wood’s Homes supports vulnerable youth, but has its warming centre open for all ages.

“We have a laundry suite we have towels and hygiene products and there is a shower and people have an area to lounge and rest from a cold night and we have hot lunches every single day,” Nagtalon said.

“Right now our outreach team is on the go trying to get people into this space by either providing rides or giving bus tickets.”

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They have counsellors on-site as well as housing supports for those in need.

Warming centre in Calgary, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Global News

Mady Stone volunteers at the warming centre.

“I was homeless at 16 and when it’s this cold, you want to be inside anywhere,” Stone said. “When I was younger, it was the library.”

She is now housed and appreciates the ability to give back to others.

“Providing warmth even if it’s a coffee and those heat packs for hands are amazing, just that little bit of caring,” Stone said.

Warming centre in Calgary, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Global News

Jess Harnack said she used to camp outdoors as a teenager and when it got too cold, she would resort to finding anything just to stay warm.

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“It makes you live in more risky situations. When I stay at friends, I was at drug houses because what other option did I have?” Harnack said.

She is grateful there are warming centres to help the unhoused have safe spaces.

Tuesday closures

In Calgary, WinSport announced Tuesday afternoon it will remain closed until “at least Thursday” due to the drop in mercury.

“A decision on Friday’s opening of the ski and snowboard hill will be made Wednesday morning,” the news release stated.

Also due to the severe weather, Rocky View Schools have closed, yet their online schools, Discovery Trails Online School and Summit Trails Online High School remain open.

Buses were cancelled for Edmonton’s Elk Island school district, as well. Schools in Three Hills, Acme and Carbon also cancelled regular classes along with school busses with the school urging students and parents to stay home; however, the school itself will not be closed.

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