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Prairies back to bitter cold

Ice fog in Keephills, Alberta
Ice fog in Keephills, Alberta

Alexandra Pope, staff writer

February 5, 2011 — Thermometers in the Prairies have been on a rollercoaster ride.

Snowfall totals expected through the weekend
Snowfall totals expected through the weekend

People who live on the Prairies are used to seeing it all when it comes to winter weather, but lately, temperature trends have left some doubt as to whether winter is coming or going.

Temperatures have been well above seasonal throughout Alberta this week. Calgary hit 10C on Friday, just days after the city shivered through windchills in the -30s. Days before that, Calgary saw record high temperatures for the end of January.

Now, an Alberta clipper is moving through the province, bringing heavy snow to parts of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan and knocking temperatures back down below freezing. Windchills could once again feel like -30C in some places, according to Dayna Vettese, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

They're used to it in the Prairies, but it's still brutal, she says.

Winnipeg is melting ... but not for long
Winnipeg is melting ... but not for long

The return of the cold could be good news for outdoor enthusiasts in Edmonton. The city was forced to close outdoor skating rinks and toboggan hills this week as the unseasonably warm temperatures created dangerous conditions for users. James Brooke, a city parks peace officer, says the recent up and down temperatures have caused conditions on the hills to alternate between wet slush and choppy ice.

It's not clear when the rinks and hills will reopen.

In Saskatchewan, the combination of snow and a return to freezing temperatures has the provincial highway ministry warning motorists to adjust their driving this weekend. According to their website, the ministry uses some 60,000 tonnes of salt and 260,000 litres of liquid de-icer per year to make the roads safer, but drivers have to do their part too.

Canada Post is also asking homeowners to shovel and salt their walkways to help prevent postal workers from falling. According to the organization, letter carriers have had close to 50 accidents this winter alone; that's amounted to more than 60 days of work lost.

In Manitoba Friday, the City of Winnipeg saw temperatures above 0C for the first time since November, but the warmup had a downside. Provincial officials were forced to close 11 highways Friday morning due to a slick layer of ice. Temperatures are expected to plummet across the province as well this weekend.

Stay up to date on current conditions in your area with The Weather Network. Local forecasts come up every 10 minutes on the 10s on TV. You can also subscribe to receive weather alerts and public warnings on your mobile phone.

With files from the Edmonton Sun and the Regina Leader-Post.

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