Arctic air and a low pressure system are responsible for the extremely frigid temperatures of – 18 C, feeling like – 31 with the wind chill Thursday evening and – 22 C, feeling like – 33 overnight.
“The combination of winds and Arctic air produced severe wind chill in many localities today with values ranging from minus 30 to minus 40. Conditions are expected to persist as a result severe wind chills are forecast for this evening and tonight,” according to Environment Canada.
During extreme weather alerts — times when the overnight temperatures plummet below - 15 C — more spaces are added at shelters and more ground crews are sent out overnight to reach those on the street who are at a greater risk of injury or death due to the cold.
People are asked to call 311 if they see someone in need of assistance, or 911 if it is an emergency.
What to wear
According to Environment Canada, exposed skin would only take about 10 minutes to freeze in these temperatures, so bundling up to avoid frostbite is extremely important if you have to go outside.
CBC’s Trevor Dunn went to retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op, specializing in how to handle any sort outdoor activity in any weather, to see the best ways to keep safe and warm when outside.
“We recommend a layering system,” said Cameron Dempster, Outreach Coordinator at MEC.
He says starting with underwear and modified versions of long johns is the first step,
“Polartech, powerdry, a lot of fancy words but these are old-fashioned long underwear,” Dempster said. “Not quite old-fashioned, these do have some great technologies that are going to help keep sweat and moisture away from the body so you’re not cool and damp on a day like today.”
Dempster says that a pair of fleece pants and a fleece zip-up with a gortex jacket to block the wind would also greatly help.
And on a day like today, one pair of gloves might not be enough either.