The frigid air mass gripping Central Alberta isn’t loosening its hold this week — or most of next week.
Environment Canada meteorologist Brian Proctor predicts the next 10 days will see numbing highs of -20 C and bone-chilling overnight lows of -30.
This is a good 15 degrees below the average for this time of year, which is a high of -4 C and low of -14 C.
With the jet stream flowing south over the U.S, there are no higher-altitude air movements to dispel the Arctic air mass that’s wrapped itself around Alberta, added Proctor.
Environment Canada weather models do not indicate significant changes until the weekend of Dec 17-18, when a slight warming trend is expected. But don’t put away your parkas — Proctor said daytime highs late next week will still be in the minus-teens.
Since temperatures have fallen so far below normal, anytime a breeze whips up there will be a good chance of frostbite to exposed skin.
“If it’s -23 out and there are surface winds, it will feel like -31,” said Proctor. He advised Red Deer-area residents to cover up, dress in layers, and look after their pets and livestock.
Outreach workers assisting Red Deer’s street population are very concerned about their clients. Several non-profits, including Red Deer’s Turning Point and the Youth and Volunteer Centre are seeking donations of tuques, mitts, scarves, warm socks (and also some heavier winter jackets) to help clients through the cold days ahead.
“Predominantly male stuff is needed,” said executive-director Jennifer Vanderschaeghe, since Turning Point has few female clients.
Homeless adults are being accommodated overnight at People’s Place and the mat program at Safe Harbour, which also operates a daytime warming centre at its downtown facility, on 53rd Avenue.
Jacquie Boyd, executive-director of Red Deer’s Youth and Volunteer Centre, wants to get the word out that teenagers with nowhere to stay can get a shelter bed at the centre.
Four of nine youth beds remained open on Tuesday night, even though the facility was “chock-a-block full” earlier in the fall. “Even if we completely fill up, we will work with other agencies to help,” said Boyd.
The bright side to the prolonged cold snap is that sunshine, instead of blizzard conditions, is predicted for central Alberta.
The cold could also prove deadly to some insect pests, although studies have shown that temperatures would have to fall near -40 C to impact the mountain pine beetle population.