Kathryn Plaudis-O’Connell, travel specialist at Marlin Travel, puts out more travel brochures to sunny destinations. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Coldest February in 40 years for Red Deer

Pools shunned because of the cold

Hold on to your tuques.

Red Deer will continue to endure below normal temperatures until about mid-March, says Kyle Fougere, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

For some Red Deerians, cold weather is something they might talk about, or read about, rather than experience.

Kathryn Plaudis-O’Connell, a travel specialist at Marlin Travel, said a lot of clients had already booked holidays for February and were thrilled to pick up their tickets during the cold snap.

“February is one of the peak times for travel. A lot of the space is already gone. But definitely, people are panicking a little bit, saying, ‘I can’t deal with it anymore,’ myself included,” Plaudis-O’Connell said Wednesday with a laugh.

She said some people are booking mini breaks, that are five to seven days, to get away. But for the most part, Albertans now prepare their winter getaways ahead of time.

“If we have a nice fall, it starts slow, and then the first snowstorm — the phones just go bonkers. It’s a guarantee every year,” Plaudis-O’Connell said.

Fougere explains just how cold this winter has been.

“As of Tuesday, the average temperature for February in Red Deer has been -22 C. So we’re sitting about 11 degrees below normal, which is a very significant amount below normal,” Fougere said Wednesday.

He said the February average record of -27.5 C, set in 1936, still stands.

“But the last time it was this cold, that there was a mean temperature for the month below -20 C, was in 1979. So it’s looking like this will be at least the coldest February in about 40 years.”

He said on Tuesday, the temperature sunk to -36.1, which was the second coldest temperature for Feb. 26. The record for that day is -40 set in 1936.

Red Deer was getting a reprieve on Wednesday with an expected high of -5, and -10 on Thursday. But temperatures will get colder again on the weekend. The overnight low for Saturday could drop to -33.

“After that, things start to trend upwards toward more normal conditions. It’s still looking like the first two weeks of March are going to be below normal. Hopefully, by mid-March, we’ll be back into more normal conditions,” Fougere said.

Normal for this time of year is a high of -1 and a low of -12.

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Barb McKee, recreation superintendent with the city, said people generally don’t try to escape the cold by visiting city pools.

“You would think that people would want to be in a nice, warm pool environment. But what we find, not just in this last cold snap, but regularly, if when we get cold, our pools aren’t busy,” McKee said.

She said going outside with wet hair on a cold day isn’t appealing.

Demand for the pool is higher during normal weather, but right now, the Collicutt Centre is busy with spectators watching live sports at the Canada Winter Games.



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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