Even the toughest Canadians are shivering during this cold snap.

VANCOUVER — Ski resorts are closed due to the extreme cold, teachers are impressing students by flash-freezing boiling water and it’s even too cold to take a walk with penguins at the zoo.

Extreme cold has moved into western Canada from the Arctic, causing wind chill values ​​to approach -50 degrees in some areas, surprising even residents who know how to deal with cold winters.

Ben DeKleine, owner of Magel’s Café in Prince George, BC, said the frigid temperatures there have put his truck, which is normally ready for Canadian winters, out of service.

“You called me while I was looking at the owner’s manual for my F-150, because my truck won’t start this morning because it didn’t appreciate the cold snap,” said DeKleine, who has lived in Prince George for more than a decade.

“I didn’t have it plugged in because it just wasn’t cold enough and now it won’t start,” he said. “I think a fuse blew.”

Environment Canada said temperatures in Prince George fell to -29 C on Thursday and may drop to -36 C on Friday just a week after hovering around the freezing mark.

The meteorologist has issued extreme cold or arctic flow warnings for parts of Yukon and the Northwest Territories, most of BC and Saskatchewan, and all of Alberta.

Temperatures in Calgary and Edmonton dropped to -30 C and -31 C respectively on Thursday and lows of -38 C are possible on Friday.

The Calgary Zoo said it canceled a preview of its outdoor penguin walk due to safety concerns for staff and visitors, and several ski slopes were also disrupted.

Even the toughest Canadians are shivering during this cold snap. #alberta #BC #extremeweather #coldwave

Nakiska Ski Area, which is in Kananaskis Country about an hour’s drive west of Calgary, said on its website it will be closed Thursdays and Fridays.

In Banff National Park, where wind chill values ​​were expected to approach -40, the Banff Sunshine Ski Resort closed Thursday. Two others, Lake Louise Ski Resort and Mount Norquay, said they are open but operations have been scaled back.

In Watson Lake, Yukon, where daytime temperatures of -46 C made it the coldest place in Canada on Thursday morning, school principal Ryan Hewgill said he also had problems with his car.

“I’ll be honest, my truck started this morning, but the first time it seemed like it wouldn’t,” said Hewgill, principal at Watson Lake Middle School.

He said other staff members had similar problems with their vehicles.

Yukon residents are more accustomed to cold weather than most, and Thursday was pretty much another normal school day at Watson Lake, he said.

Teachers especially love cold weather because it allows classes to conduct boiling water experiments, where water is thrown into the air outside and freezes instantly, Hewgill said.

“We recognize the cold, but no one likes to focus on it too much,” Hewgill said. “It’s just part of the Yukon winter.”

In Manitoba, some areas are expected to receive up to 20 centimeters of snow on Thursday, and about a dozen rural school divisions closed schools due to extreme weather and hazardous driving conditions.

Classes were also canceled Thursday in Hope, BC, due to “beyond the scale blackout conditions,” according to the district.

Environment Canada’s warnings extend to the normally temperate regions of Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria.

He said the combination of gusts reaching 60 kilometers per hour and cold temperatures will raise wind chill values ​​in Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria to around -20.

The agency warned that cold temperatures can cause frostbite and hypothermia can occur within minutes if precautions are not taken outdoors.

Meteorologist Armel Castellan said he expects some daily temperature records to be broken on the West Coast, but the most concerning issue is the cold snap that comes on the heels of an abnormally warm December.

“The fact is that people, pets and even the ecology have not had time to adapt to the cold,” Castellán said.

“So there are very strong arguments for how cold injuries – frostbite, frostbite, potentially hypothermia and even death – are really a priority when we think about the public over the next few days.”

Castellan said in an interview Thursday that cold temperatures are “locked in” for the next three or four days, but weather models have been inconclusive about what’s next.

“Not everyone agrees on how next week will play out, so those details will have to come a little later.”

British Columbia’s Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Preparedness said in a statement that all extreme weather response shelters in the province are now open. It said more than 5,500 shelter spaces are open, including permanent, temporary and extreme weather shelters.

Back in Prince George, DeKleine said he is happy to be able to run a restaurant instead of working at his previous job as a telecommunications technician.

“I’ve been up the telephone pole in -25C,” he said. “The hardest part of that job was that you can’t do most of what we do with gloves on. You have to take them off, and even for five seconds straight on a pole, you run the risk of freezing.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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