The extreme cold warning will continue for central Albertans until at least Thursday.
Natalie Hasell, warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said the temperature will drop to its lowest on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning when it hits -35 C.
“If there is any wind at all that will truly be a difficult and dangerous time for a lot of people,” said Hasell about the impact of a windchill.
For more on the health risks from wind chill during extreme cold visit the Wind Chill Hazard Chart.
Extreme cold warnings are issued when very cold temperatures or wind chill creates an elevated risk to health such as frost bite and hypothermia.
Extreme cold puts everyone at risk, but risks are greater for young children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, people working or exercising outdoors, and those without proper shelter.
“In the Prairies this year I’m aware of at least one death in a bus shelter. Someone was under pile of blankets but it wasn’t enough,” Hasell said.
People should watch out for cold-related symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle pain and weakness, numbness and colour change in fingers and toes.
And if it’s too cold for people to stay outside, it’s too cold for pets.
Red Deer’s daytime high on Tuesday is forecast to be -28 C, with a nighttime low of -31 C. It will warm up slightly to -23 C during the day on Wednesday before dropping to -35 C at night. On Thursday the temperature reaches a high of -25 C and a low of -26 C. On Friday -20 C is the high and -22 C is the low.
Hasell advised people attending holiday parties during the extreme cold not to walk home, and not to imbibe too much (alcohol or cannabis).
“The decisions people make in those conditions put them at much greater risk when we’re dealing with extreme cold.”
Communication is also really important, she said.
“Tell people where you’re going, and how long it’s going to take you so if you don’t call in, or show up, somebody knows and they can do something about it.”
If someone has engine trouble or an accident on the highway, it’s usually best that they stay with their vehicle, she added.
“Unless you know for sure you can reach shelter in literally a minute or less, stay in your car. If it’s intact it’s already offering shelter, don’t leave.”
On Christmas Eve Saturday the temperature warms up to a high of -9 C, with a low of -12 C. The Christmas Day forecast shows a high of -6 C.
Hasell said luckily it’s a cold snap for a few days, rather than a cold spell for a few weeks.
“Looking on the bright side is a good idea. A positive attitude will certainly help to deal with these extreme conditions and for people to be prepared and dressing properly.”
But even when it warms up, people should still be prepared by having an emergency kit in their vehicle, and by paying attention to road and weather conditions, she said.
The normal daytime high at this time of year is -5 C and the normal night time low is -16 C.