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Polar vortex pounces over all-time Canadian temperature records

Tuesday, February 9th 2021, 6:07 am - Temperatures are tumbling frighteningly low across Canada and some regions felt like -60 with the wind chill this past weekend.

A prominent lobe of the polar vortex settled over Western Canada on Sunday and created the coldest Canadian temperatures in years, and in some cases, record-breaking cold that was reported by a handful of weather stations.

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It was so chilly on Sunday that even the most sophisticated satellites were perplexed and caused them to pick up the ground and mark it as freezing cloud-tops.

The resulting output looked like a gargantuan thunderstorm over the Prairies, which can be seen in the graphic below.

ground

So how chilly were the reds above? On Sunday, Wekweèti, N.W.T. recorded -51.9°C, which is Canada's coldest temperature since March 2017. Before 2017, you have to go back to Old Crow, Yukon to find a temperature below -52.0°C in the Canadian database. There are a couple of indications we might get a notch colder too, in the days ahead.

What's the coldest temperature you've ever experienced? Perhaps -30°C? -40°C? Only a handful of Canadians have ever experienced temperatures colder than -50°C without the wind chill, and those in Wekweèti and Old Crow are some of the lucky few.

brrrr

Not all regions near the Arctic Circle saw bone-chilling cold conditions. In comparison to northern Saskatchewan, regions in eastern Nunavut experienced relative beach weather as mild air surged up to 25 degrees above normal, pushing the mercury up to 2.0°C on Sunday. By early Monday morning, Iqaluit pushed above the freezing mark, as moderate easterly air wrapped in behind the descending Siberian air.

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The dense, Arctic air had no trouble infiltrating the Prairies, where Uranium City managed a rare feat -- tying the coldest temperature on record for the station at -48.9°C. Key Lake in Saskatchewan (-48.2°C) and Fort Chipewyan in Alberta (-47.2°C) set rare new monthly minimum temperatures, as well.

Some computer models suggest that temperatures will once again plunge into the -50s in Yukon and Northwest Territories, particularly in the valleys of the Mackenzie Mountains.

legend

Wicked wind chill values left an icy, dangerous chill across Northern Canada in recent days and the coldest of 2021 is currently a staggeringly low -66 that was recorded at Ennadai Lake, Nunavut on February 6th.

WC

Frigid air will remain in place throughout the week, keeping daytime highs hovering well into the -20°Cs, or even -30°Cs in some locations, with overnight lows continually plunging into the -40°Cs for the foreseeable future.

The lobe of the remnant polar vortex will remain situated between Manitoba and Alberta for the time being, as an Arctic high refuses to budge in Western Canada throughout the entire week.

brrrr

Thumbnail image courtesy: Lucy Frances

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