‘Boom, winter!’: Here’s how the season is shaping up in Canada

Canadians from coast to coast to coast are experiencing the brunt of winter this week.

From extreme cold out west that is breaking records, to continuous snowfall in the east, it’s very clear to senior Environment Canada climatologist Dave Phillips that it’s been a “wicked week of weather.”

“It came just all at once. I mean, there was no sort of easing into it, no kind of acclimatizing to it,” he said on CTV News Channel on Saturday. “We had a false spring and fall and then all of a sudden, boom, winter!”

RECORD-BREAKING COLD

For the past several days, Canadians in British Columbia, the Prairies and the territories have been experiencing extreme cold warnings from Environment Canada.

Normally balmy Victoria and Vancouver are seeing frigid temperatures and snow, with wind chills in the -20 to -30.

The “brutal cold snap,” according to Phillips, was enough to break a 60-year-old temperature record in Victoria.

The weather agency said Friday morning’s temperature of -11 C at the Victoria International Airport beat the previous record low of -9.4 C set in 1963.

An arctic air mass has stalled over the western part of the country and is dropping temperatures over the weekend, Environment Canada’s warnings read.

A man walks in the cold trailing a steam cloud in Calgary, Friday, Jan. 12, 2024.(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

The weather agency said temperatures will continue to drop over Saturday and into Sunday, with the latter part of the weekend being the coldest.

Some places in Alberta, northern Saskatchewan and parts of Yukon could feel as cold as -55 over the weekend.

“That will freeze flesh in a minute or two,” Phillips said.

Parts of Manitoba and the territories are under extreme cold alerts, with expected temperatures ranging from -45 to -50.

There may be some “moderation” in the weather, Phillips said.

“There is some relief in sight, but boy, it’s been a tough week and a tough few more days to come,” he said.

Coral Harbour, Nunavut can expect continued blizzard conditions due to strong winds throughout Saturday.

SNOW AND RAIN BEING DUMPED ON ATLANTIC CANADA

Environment Canada has issued alerts for Atlantic Canada for the impending Texas low storm system.

As of Saturday morning, winter storm, snowfall and storm surge warnings are in place for the northern parts of New Brunswick. The southern portions are under a special weather statement from Environment Canada.

Accumulating snow could near 25 centimetres for some areas as strong winds track into the east coast, bringing degrading conditions.

Pedestrians make their way through wind and sleet in Halifax, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese)

The provinces of Nova Scotia and P.E.I. are under wind warnings from Environment Canada on Saturday morning. Wind speeds could reach as high as 90 km/h and are expected to last until early Sunday morning.

Portions of Nova Scotia are also under rainfall warnings as the Texas low moves across the region, bringing up to 25 millimetres of rain, the warning reads.

The wind gusts are stretching to Bay St. George, N.L., on Saturday, with parts along the coast experiencing 100 km/h winds at times.

“We’ve all got this kind of misery from coast to coast to coast,” Phillips said.

STORM LEFT MESSY CONDITIONS IN ONTARIO, QUEBEC

By Saturday morning, southern Quebec, Montreal and Quebec City were experiencing snowfall, with amounts ranging from 15 to 40 centimetres expected, according to Environment Canada.

Heavy snowfall began in the Montreal area on Saturday morning with possible mixing later on this afternoon.

In the Renfrew County area near Ottawa, two people died Saturday, suffering cardiac arrests while shovelling. There were three calls for car crashes, four calls for slips and falls, and one call each for back pain, shortness of breath, and altered level of awareness.

The latter half of the storm brought warmer air that melted snow in the Greater Toronto Area by Saturday morning.

“However, the winds will be picking up during the day on Saturday, so (that’s) something to be mindful of with freshly fallen snow,” Cheng said.

WILL WINTER WEATHER STAY?

Phillips said the wintry weather conditions observed in parts of the country will stay, but for others, it could be “warmer than normal.”

“I looked at the forecast for the end of January and February, it shows for most of the country warmer than normal. So I think El Nino is coming back,” he said.

But the forecast from Environment Canada shows some areas, like Ottawa and Quebec, could be colder than normal.

“This will allow that ice to grow on the Rideau Canal and in time for Winterlude or the Quebec carnivals,” Phillips said.

Out west, Phillips believes it will warm up enough so that people can enjoy being outside again.

“In Canada, for the first half of winter, it’s not been too bad if you can just say, ‘Well, we’ve been brutalized by one week and not three months,'” he said.

With files from CTVNews.ca’s Mitchell Consky 

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