Cold snap to carry into the new year


Frigid temperatures continue to blast through the city, but fortunately an end is in sight. Environment Canada says by New Year’s Day temperatures should rise.

“It warms up a bit when we get into the latter part of the weekend. New Year’s Day we’re looking at a high of -10 C and a low of -15 C,” said Greg Pearce, meteorologist with Environment Canada.

On New Year’s Eve temperatures are expected to reach -25 C, so people going out to celebrate should bundle up for the weather.

Environment Canada issued an extreme cold warning for St. Albert on Boxing Day when a cold Arctic mass drifted across most of Alberta.

Temperatures dropped to -28 overnight on Dec. 25, but the wind chill made it feel more like -40 C. Pearce said the lowest temperature of the week was -35 C on Friday night.

“[You should] wear as many layers of clothing as you can stand, dress warm and dress for the conditions,” he said.

While other media outlets are reporting that the length of the cold snap is unusual, Pearce said it’s not.

“You get these Arctic outbreaks in Alberta quite frequently in the winter and it’s not unusual for it to last a week.”

Environment Canada issues a cold weather warning when the temperature, or the wind chill, reaches -40 C. The weather warning was issued across Canada with Edmonton sitting on the edge of the Arctic mass.

Cold snap felt across city

When temperatures plummeted on Dec. 26, many vehicles across St. Albert fell into a frozen coma.

According to Mike Pascuzzo, general manager of Canadian Tire, the shop had a steady stream of customers all day trying to revive their cars and trucks.

“We were busy all day,” he said, “right from the minute we opened to the minute we closed. We had tow trucks bringing in trucks that had been frozen over.”

He said while Boxing Day is always a busy day at the store, there was a higher volume of people purchasing extension cords and car batteries for vehicles that had died overnight.

Similarly Dean Henry, manager of Midas, said the business lost track of how many people came into the store with frozen vehicles.

“I lost count. They’re coming in right, left and centre,” he said. “It’s been constant.”

Henry said the most common problems caused by the weather were leaks, no starts and dead batteries.

While many residents woke up to unmovable vehicles, one person experienced an entirely different issue.

At around 5 a.m. on Dec. 26 Gillian Richardson woke suddenly to an ear-piercing crack from the bathroom. The frosted glass inside pane of the two-pane bathroom window had broken because of the cold.

Two days later, at around the same time, she was startled awake for the second time as another window in the bathroom cracked.

Richardson said she was frustrated.

“I expected the windows to withstand the cold weather,” she said. The crack has allowed some cold air to billow into the bathroom, but Richardson said she keeps the door closed so it’s not an issue.

Now her next step will be finding out whether the windows are covered under warranty.

The city has a few suggestions to help homeowners through the cold snap. When it comes to plumbing, the city recommends opening cupboard doors under sinks, especially where plumbing is in an exterior wall, to let interior heat warm the pipes.

If the lines are frozen, assume they may be broken or split and be prepared to turn your water off when the pipes thaw. The city also recommends that if your water pipes break, shut off the water at the shut-off valve and turn off the circuit breaker or the gas to the water heater.

Environment Canada warns that the cold weather puts everyone at risk. Some may experience symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle pain and weakness, numbness and colour change in fingers and toes. If you must be outside, dress for the conditions. Seek medical help if you feel unwell.





About Author

Dayla Lahring

Dayla Lahring joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2017. She writes about business, health, general news and features. She also contributes photographs.