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Deep freeze grips Prairies


Alexandra Pope, staff writer

January 31, 2011 — Biting cold will continue this week through parts of the Prairies.

The Prairies were covered by Arctic air over the weekend
The Prairies were covered by Arctic air over the weekend

From the end of last week to the beginning of this week, temperatures in the Prairies have taken a huge nosedive.

Temperatures dropped about 30C in some areas, including Calgary. It was in the teens there last Thursday. But the city was below -20C on Monday, like much of the Prairies.

With the wind chill, it's been feeling down to the -30's in some areas.

The cold is the result of an Arctic air mass that stretched across the Prairies and into northern Ontario, and wind chills are making it feel -45 to -50 in some places. Exposed skin can freeze in minutes when it's that cold.

The frigid temperature complicated efforts to stem a watermain break in northwest Winnipeg Sunday. The gushing water quickly froze, causing a number of collisions on the busy road. Residents of two nearby homes were forced to leave after their basements were flooded with frigid water. Crews were able to shut off the flow by Sunday night, but water supply to eight homes still had not been restored by Monday.

And people in southwestern Saskatchewan have had to bare the freezing temperatures with no power. SaskPower says a 72,000-volt transmission line was out on Monday morning in the area between Maple Creek and Piapot. Crews were having trouble getting to the site as it became inaccessible after the heavy snow last week.

Birds try to catch some warmth from the sun in Fort McMurray, Alberta
Birds try to catch some warmth from the sun in Fort McMurray, Alberta

The cold came on the heels of a major snow storm. Southern Alberta saw up to 20 cm of snow in places like Calgary.

That system has since merged with a Texas low to form a massive storm that's headed for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

Although last week's record-breaking warmth in Calgary is now just a distant memory, temperatures will warm up to the low minus teens in Alberta on Tuesday.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba will continue to stay frigid, with highs in the -20s.

With files from Andrea Stockton, Lisa Varano and the Canadian Press.

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