Only Siberia was colder
Edmonton was the chilliest place in North America yesterday, says Environment Canada meteorologist
By CLARA HO, Edmonton Sun
Last Updated: 14th December 2009, 1:03am
Edmonton was the coldest place in North America yesterday morning and the second chilliest in the world.
The Edmonton International Airport saw a record low of -46.1 C and -58.4 C with the windchill, outfreezing even the Arctic.
"The cold high pressure has been moving down from the Arctic over the Prairies," said Environment Canada meteorologist John McIntyre, adding British Columbia and Saskatchewan also experienced plummeting temperatures. "We are right now in the centre of the heaviest, coldest air."
Only Dzalinda, Siberia, appeared to be colder, with a weather station there recording temperatures of -48 C.
But the coldest day ever recorded in Edmonton remains unbeaten at -48.3 C with a windchill of -61 C on Jan. 26, 1972.
Yesterday's frigid temperatures broke the previous record for Dec. 13, which was -36.1 C set in 2008, as well as the record for the coldest day in December, a low of -44.5 C set on Dec. 9, 1977. Cold Lake, Grande Prairie and Whitecourt also had record lows yesterday.
The extreme weather was enough to stall some planes at the Edmonton International Airport, said spokeswoman Traci Bednard.
"A couple flights had to be diverted to Calgary (Saturday night) where it was warmer," Bednard said, adding there were a few cancellations and a few delays early yesterday morning. By 8 a.m., when the temperature improved to -40 C, most planes were able to start operating again.
"We are still asking people to check our website, www.flyeia.com, before heading out to the airport," Bednard said, adding they can check up-to-date flight statuses on the site.
Meanwhile, 2,000 Fortis Alberta customers lost power yesterday after transmission lines snapped at a substation in Sherwood Park.
Spokeswoman Dora L'heureux said power went out at about 4:30 p.m. All but 200 customers were back in light and heat by 6:30 p.m.
"We're definitely sorry for any inconvenience. It's not very nice when the power goes out when the weather is like this," she said.
Meanwhile, within city limits, some Edmonton Transit buses experienced mechanical issues from the cold and had to be replaced. Others were running on average 10 to 15 minutes late, said transit spokeswoman Patricia Dickson.
The LRT system had weather-related problems with the track and had to run on a single track between the McKernan-Belgravia and South Campus stations for several hours. But otherwise, bus and train schedules remained unchanged, she said.
Motorists requiring AMA's services were faced with 24-hour wait times for tows and 14-hour wait times for other services such as tire changes and boosts, said spokesman Kent Dixon. On an average day, wait times for a tow would be an hour and less than an hour for all other services, he added.
"My No. 1 piece of advice is to plug in your car. It is not an option in this weather," Dixon said, adding oil starts turning into the consistency of molasses once the mercury dips to -15 C and colder.
If motorists have forgotten to plug in their vehicles overnight and they don't start up the next morning, Dixon said it's not too late to plug them in as soon as possible and wait a few hours before trying to start them up again.
"But if you don't need to travel, stay in," he said.
The temps made life difficult for Edmonton Sun photographers. One shooter said his camera froze up in mere moments outside and wouldn't work again until it was warmed up.
McIntyre said Albertans will soon get a reprieve from the cold when warm, Pacific air moves through the province bringing a high of -10 C on Wednesday, a high of -4 C on Thursday and up to a high of -1 C on Friday.