(File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / Mirage3)

Frigid Weather Leads To Cold Weather Alert

Bone-chilling temperatures, more than ten degrees below normal for this time of year, will linger across southwestern Ontario for the rest of the week.

Coupled with the windchill, temperatures Tuesday night into Wednesday morning will feel like -30 C. Daytime highs Thursday and Friday will hover around -15 C. The frigid temperature has prompted the Middlesex London Health Unit to issue a Cold Weather Alert that will remain in place until Saturday. Environment Canada also issued an Extreme Cold Warning for London Middlesex, which has since ended.

“If you’re planning to spend time outdoors over the next several days, you need to plan ahead and make sure you’re dressing for the conditions,” said Randy Walker, Public Health Inspector with the Middlesex-London Health Unit. “At these temperatures, the cold can damage exposed skin in a matter of a few minutes, so it is important to cover up and to dress in layers. It’s also very smart to wear a hat and insulated gloves or mittens as body heat is lost through our heads and extremities.”

Much of Canada was plunged into the deep freeze on Boxing Day when an Arctic air mass settled in. Due to the cold air mass’ physical size though it has become firmly entrenched over the region and difficult to budge, said Environment Canada Meteorologist Geoff Coulson.

“It is pretty abnormal to have it go on this long,” said Coulson. “Certainly seeing temperatures like this, in some cases record-breaking here and there, does happen from winter-to-winter but not necessarily stringing all those cold days together or in a row. I think that is what really sets apart this particular coldwave that we have been experiencing from past cold snaps.”

Coulson said he is searching the record books to see whether the area has dealt with a similar abnormally long cold snap in the past.

“When I have looked back at the last few winters there is nothing really to compare,” said Coulson. “We have had cold snaps before lasting maybe three or four days but we are now getting into day six or day seven in some cases for this particular cold snap. So we would have to go back a number of years to find something equivalent.”

In addition to the bitter cold, Environment Canada is tracking a system that has the potential to drop a significant amount of snow across the region, including London, Thursday and Friday.

“If these bands of snow lock-in from the northwest winds off of Lake Huron, it could be quite possible for some areas to get well over 20cm to 30cm on Thursday and maybe additional amounts on Friday,” said Coulson. “If the surface winds shift a bit, it is going to spray that snow squall activity over a larger area and so there is less likelihood of anyone given place getting the huge amounts.”

Frigid weather is expected to give way to more seasonable temperatures on Sunday and last through next Tuesday before dropping back into colder than normal conditions. For this time of year, seasonal highs should be around the -2 C mark, while normal lows tend to hover around -8 C.

During the extreme cold, those who see someone outside in distress because of the elements are asked to call London CAReS at 519-667-2273 or 911 if it is an emergency.

A list of warming centres in London can be found by clicking here.