The defiant winter doubles as frigid air looms over the prairies
The relatively mild conditions blanketing the prairie will give way quickly next week as a blast of arctic air provides a brutal reminder that it’s still mid-winter.
For many, this will be the coldest air since the extreme cold that gripped the region in December.
Communities across the prairie will have to contend with high temperatures by mid-next week to break out of the -20s, marking a significant reversal from the over-seasonal conditions we’ve seen in recent weeks.
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A series of ridges parked in the middle of North America have resulted in fairly mild conditions over the prairies for more than a month.
Temperatures are well above normal for almost everyone on the prairies this month so far.
A typical February in Edmonton would see about 20 mornings with a low temperature below -10°C. Edmonton has only seen 8 such acres so far this month.
Similarly in Calgary, we saw just 4 mornings with low temperatures below -10C compared to the usual 14 in February.
This trend will not last much longer.
A trough swinging south through the middle of the country will allow frigid Arctic air to flow south across the prairie next week. The coldest air will sweep over the region on Tuesday and remain there for several days before easing somewhat.
Heavy snowfall will develop along Alberta’s southern reaches Monday morning as the cold front pulls through, potentially hampering travel through the region as this foray of Arctic air enters the region.
The deep cold sweeping into Alberta will keep temperatures in Calgary and Edmonton firmly in the double digits from Monday night through Saturday morning.
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Regina and Saskatoon will see the coldest air Monday night and Tuesday. Every city will grapple with several days of high temperatures in the -20s, with Saskatoon expected to hit -25C on Wednesday.
Winnipeg faces daily highs on Wednesday and Thursday, rising only to around -22C, with overnight lows expected to hit -28C several times throughout the week.
These certainly aren’t the coldest temperatures we’ve seen, but it will feel particularly harsh considering it’s been so mild on the prairies for the past few weeks.
Winds certainly won’t help either. Wind chill levels will drop into the -30s and approach -40 for the duration of the coldest air next week, increasing the risk of frostbite and hypothermia. Exposed skin can develop frostbite in as little as 10 minutes, with wind chill levels reaching -40.
This cold air does not go away so quickly. Subseasonal temperatures will continue through much of the prairie through the end of the month.
Thumbnail image courtesy of Ian Furst via Wikimedia Commons.
Stay tuned to The Weather Network for the latest weather conditions on the prairie.