01/15/2014 09:45 EST | Updated 03/17/2014 05:59 EDT

120 km/h winds, record warmth bring thaw to Edmonton

Record winds and temperatures blanketed central Alberta this morning causing power outages and creating havoc on highways and city streets.

Wind speeds up to 70 km/h have been reported in downtown Edmonton, while the international airport recorded wind gusts at 120 km/h, reports CBC meteorologist Stephanie Barsby. 

The previous strongest sustained wind speed for January in downtown Edmonton was 68 km/h in 1959. Wind gusts hit 114 km/h in 1972.

The winds forced Edmonton Transit to shut down the LRT from Century Park to South Campus, as some crossing arms were damaged and others were blowing too close to power lines. Edmonton Transit is running buses instead.

Epcor is reporting two power outages due to the high winds.

In some rural areas the winds have knocked down power lines and power poles across roadways.

Semi rollover closes highway

Shortly after RCMP issued a wind advisory for travel on the QE II south of Edmonton between Wetaskiwin and Red Deer, a southbound semi-truck rolled near the Millet overpass at about 8 a.m. MT, forcing police to reroute traffic.

While the winds are expected to continue into the afternoon, temperatures will fall from a record 9.2 C, which smashed the old daytime high record of 7.2 C set back in 1965, to near the zero mark.

Barby said the unusual wind cannot be termed a Chinook, the warm, dry snow-clearing winds that often sweep through southern Alberta.

"These are not down-sloping winds and we are too far away from the mountains," she said. "This system is related. We have a severe pressure gradient and the wind is mixing down warm air aloft."

The winds are pushing east from west and north-central Alberta through most of central Alberta.