CALGARY -- You really don't want the phrase "quasistationary front" tacked on with "extreme cold." I'm saying that, even as Alberta primarily dodges the motion. Temperatures here will hit the minus 20s with that wind chill factored in, and that's cold enough to do some damage to skin with prolonged exposure.

Saskatoon this morning toppled down to -48 C with wind chill, which can cause frostbite in less than five minutes.

wind chill, prairies, Jan. 25

That data is from a continual forecast point data, and not observed data, as of 6 am today – it’s close, but just off the mark from actual temperatures. In fact, some spots were one to five degrees cooler with wind chill factored that as shown here.

So what is frostbite?

Think back to attending a school assembly. At first, it's tolerable to be crammed in a gymnasium with 400 other kids. But as the presentation drones on (sorry, principals!), the room gradually becomes stifling. That's because we're all miniature furnaces, and we're inefficient at holding heat in. Every muscle contraction you have generates thermal energy. That's why we get toasty when we work out.

If you can picture this: we have a thin 'aura' of heat around us all the time.

So when the wind picks up enough, and the air temperature is cool enough, that layer of heat on exposed skin gets wicked away, and the colder temperature can damage that outer layer. Hence, frostbite. This is why it's so important to dress according to conditions! In a 2010 piece, Environment Canada said 80 people die every year in our country from overexposure.

The other factor occurring in the next few days is the crystallization of air in our cloud layer. Long and short – we're going to be seeing off-and-on fluffy flakes falling for the foreseeable future (Friday).

Here's the five-day forecast:


  • Flurries
  • Daytime high: -13 C
  • Evening: continuing flurries, low -15 C


  • AM flurries, then mainly sunny
  • Daytime high: -11 C
  • Evening: overnight flurries, low -18 C


  • Mainly cloudy, off-and-on flurries
  • Daytime high: -12 C
  • Evening: overnight flurries, low -19 C


  • Mainly cloudy, off-and-on flurries
  • Daytime high: -13 C
  • Evening: some cloud, low -18 C


  • Mainly sunny
  • Daytime high: -7 C
  • Evening: overnight flurries, low -13 C

Yes, it's cold, but that cold can provide us with plenty of spectacular images!

Ken in Olds snapped this shot of hoar frost – the term is derived from an old English word, "hoary", which means "gray-haired, old" – so, when dew freezes on surfaces, in a bygone age, it was given a name to symbolize its comparison to a venerable-aged individual’s beard!

hoar frost, Ken, Olds, Alberta

Jovette is from Quebec and says she loves Alberta! She snapped this photo in the foothills.

Jovette, foothills, Alberta

Lastly, Jennifer in Millarville caught this sun halo! It's ice crystals refracting from daylight in cool weather. Pretty!

sun halo, Millarville, Alberta, Jennifer

You can submit your weather photos here, or email me here! Kevin Stanfield