Extreme cold warning issued for Edmonton, northern Alberta

Environment Canada has replaced a snowfall warning for the city of Edmonton with an extreme cold warning.

Much of central and northern Alberta is covered by the warning, which is calling for temperatures between -40 C and -45 C Saturday night and into Sunday morning.

The cold weather warning spans the province and extends from the Red Deer area to the northern border.

Environment Canada says extreme cold warnings are issued when very cold temperatures or wind chill creates an elevated risk to health. The weather agency also suggests covering up exposed skin as the risk of frostbite increases during extreme cold.

People are also encouraged to bring pets inside.

Alberta is not alone, as extreme cold and snowfall warnings are in effect from the B.C. coast to northern Ontario.

Global News chief meteorologist Anthony Farnell says a polar vortex arrived earlier in the week. The mass of freezing air that typically spins over the North Pole has shifted south, bringing frigid temperatures to a large area of North America.

“The polar vortex exists all year long but mostly resides over the North Pole,” said Farnell. “When the clockwise wind flow in this large swirl of cold weakens, the circulation can be disrupted and split. When this occurs, a section can travel south and bring record cold and wind to large areas that typically don’t deal with those temperatures.”

The extreme cold warning comes the same day that a number of people were hoping for a sign that winter would be coming to an end.

But on Groundhog Day, Canada’s critters have disagreed. Shubenacadie Sam spotted his shadow, which according to legend, means six more weeks of winter, but Wiarton Willie is calling for an early spring.

South of the border, Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil also called for an early spring.

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