Bundle up! Wind chills of -50 sparks widespread cold warnings across Prairies

Widespread extreme cold warnings cover the Prairies. Overnight wind chills could plummet to a bone-chilling -50, bringing intense winter conditions into the weekend

This week, winter is making a bold statement across the nation. Eastern Canada is facing a barrage of storm systems, while a perilous cold snap tightens its grip on the Prairies.

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A polar vortex is ushering in Arctic air, bringing the coldest temperatures in 70 years for some areas! Residents should brace themselves for dangerously cold overnights, with wind chills plummeting into the -50s in the coming days.

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The latest forecast issues a bold warning for Calgary, Alberta, anticipating temperatures not seen since January 24th, 1954. Edmonton is also gearing up for a bone-chilling Friday overnight low of -40°C, a record untouched since 1972.

While all-time or January coldest day records may not be in immediate jeopardy, this substantial cold front marks a rare event. Temperatures will easily be -20 to -30 degrees below normal for this time of year.

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Dangerously cold conditions Friday

Friday is poised to become one of the coldest days in recent memory across Alberta, as models project daytime highs struggling to surpass -30°C. Edmonton airport, for instance, has only experienced five days below -30°C as daytime highs in the entire 21st century, the last being on December 21st, 2022.

The city of Edmonton is forecast to have a daytime high temperature of -31°C on Friday. The last time this occurred was February 1st, 1989 -- 35 years ago!

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Calgary, has experienced a daytime high of -30°C just once since the year 2000, on January 27th, 2004. By comparison, the 20th century recorded 56 instances of daytime highs at or below -30°C.

Prepare for an extraordinary and historically cold weather event.

Wicked wind chills make it feel like -50

On top of the cold temperatures, winds will be breezy, which will also create dangerous wind chill conditions. Wind gusts of 20-30 km/h Friday morning will see wind chill values plummet into the mid-40s, flirting with -50 in Edmonton by Saturday morning.

PR Wind Chill Jan 11 2024

Temperatures are forecast to remain frigid through next weekend, and slowly moderate the following week.

Be aware of cold-related emergencies

When a person is exposed to cold temperatures it may result in a decrease in body temperature, which is called a cold-related emergency.

Hypothermia safety explainer Baron graphic

It is important for everyone enjoying the outdoors to know how to recognize when someone has been exposed to cold for too long, prevent cold-related emergencies, and be able to provide help when needed.

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  • Cover your head and trunk by wearing a hat and layers of tightly woven fabrics such as wool or synthetics.

  • Cover up exposed areas such as your fingers, cheeks, ears, and nose.

  • If your clothes get wet when you are in the cold, change into dry clothes as soon as possible.

  • Drink plenty of warm fluids to help your body stay warm and hydrated, avoid caffeine and alcohol.

  • Eat high calorie food and drinks regularly as the body converts food to energy which heats the body.

  • Dress in layers so that you can adjust to changes as you heat up or cool off.

  • Bring additional warm clothing when going out for extended periods or in case of emergency.

  • Don’t wear tight fitting clothing or footwear that may impair circulation.

  • Seek shelter from the wind if you are getting cold, even if it is only behind a tree, hill, embankment, or other landscape feature.

You can find more information on how to recognize when someone is suffering from a cold-related emergency, here.

WATCH: Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia this winter

Stay with The Weather Network for the latest on conditions across the Prairies.