Extreme cold warning issued for all parts of P.E.I.
Environment Canada has issued an extreme cold warning for all of Prince Edward Island.
Arctic air masses with strong north-west winds ensure bitterly cold conditions on Friday.
With the wind chill, temperatures that feel as cold as -35C to -40C are expected to develop Friday night and last through Saturday morning before beginning to moderate on Saturday afternoon as the winds ease.
Extreme cold alerts are issued when very cold temperatures or wind chills pose an increased health risk such as frostbite and hypothermia.
Environment Canada is reminding islanders to cover themselves because exposed skin can develop frostbite in minutes, especially in wind chills.
The agency advises looking out for cold-related symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle pain and weakness, numbness, and color changes in fingers and toes.
“Dramatic drop” in temperature
CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin said islanders would begin to feel the cold air from the Arctic during the day Friday, when winds pick up from the northwest around noon.
“The morning starts at -1, but in the afternoon our temperatures will drop to around -15. That’s quite a dramatic drop,” Simpkin said.
That rapid drop in temperature could cause some icy patches on the roads, she said.
The temperature recorded at Charlottetown Airport since 2017 will typically drop below −20°C once or twice during the winter months, but for the past six years the temperature has never quite reached −24°C. On February 12, 2017, it almost got there and collapsed to -23.9 °C. The last time wind chill was measured below -40°C was in 2004.
The unusually warm January, 6.6°C above normal, could make this cold snap appear much colder. January was the 18th consecutive month that recorded temperatures were above normal, measured from 1981 to 2010.
In response to the cold forecast, islanders who don’t have warm homes are getting extra help this weekend.
The provincial government says the Bedford MacDonald House in Charlottetown will operate overflow beds, and said in a press release that extra beds have been secured when other accommodations are at full capacity.
No one from the province was available to clarify where these beds are located or how to reach them. The province’s page listing warming centers is currently blank, stating that none are active.
The City of Summerside will open a heat center in the Fire Hall of Station 1 via the Fitzroy Street entrance. It opens at 7 p.m. on Friday.
There will also be an emergency shelter in Three Rivers at the Montague Bible Fellowship Church, which opens at 6 p.m. on Friday and is expected to close at noon on Saturday.
Taxi services will be available to take people in need to somewhere warm.
People who need assistance can call 1-833-220-4722.
Winds are expected to ease on Saturday afternoon and bring some relief, but the forecast high is just -15C. The temperature will drop back to almost -20C on Saturday evening, with a high of -6C forecast for Sunday.