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Wind chill values expected to bottom out at -50 in Calgary this weekend

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Both temperatures and wind chill values across the Prairies were dangerously cold Friday morning.

In Calgary, the morning temperature hovered around -35 C with wind chill values making it feel like -45.

Edmonton was navigating a wind chill value of -55 and communities in southern Alberta were dealing with wind chill values around -50, and this is not the coldest it will be.

Clear skies late Friday and early Saturday mean outgoing radiation from Earth will be unimpeded so the temperature is likely to drop even further.

Calgary is expected an overnight temperature of -38 C Friday, with wind chill values around -50, further elevating cold weather risks. Wind chill values of -48 to -54 can lead to frostbite in two to five minutes.

Polar air is currently situated north to south over Alberta in an upper elongated trough. A ridge of high pressure over the north Pacific is expected to track east over the weekend and offering some much-needed relief, however there is a chance that ridge will flatten out, limiting the benefits in terms of temperature.

It is crucial that cold weather warnings be heeded.

According to data from Environment Canada “more than 80 people die from over-exposure to the cold” every year.

As such, Canada played a key role in developing a quantitative scale to measure how cold air feels. In the early 2000s Canada was one of 35 countries to collaborate and create wind chill values – a system that is used internationally.

Humans lose the bulk of their heat through their heads, which makes it especially important to wear hats and protect the face from exposure during cold weather outbreaks.

Daytime highs for the next seven days will remain far below seasonal until Tuesday, but despite this being an El Nino year (which is typically warmer in the southern Prairies during the winter) this cold air could show a weak resurgence by the middle of next week.

The extreme cold warning in Alberta will likely remain in place until the end of the weekend.

As per Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) warning criteria, such a warning will be issued in Alberta when there is either an air temperature or wind chill value of at least -40 for at least two hours.

On occasion, ECCC has left this warning in place during short durations that are warmer, if the period of cold weather is close to the threshold and/or the duration of the cold air outbreak is extensive.

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