Extreme cold expected across most of B.C. for several days: Environment Canada

Extreme cold and blasts of Arctic air are expected across much of British Columbia over the next several days, according to the latest round of weather alerts.

Environment Canada has warnings in effect for the South Coast as well as northern and central B.C., with dangerously frigid temperatures in the forecast until at least Wednesday morning.

Arctic outflow warnings are in place for the eastern side of Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver, Howe Sound, the Sunshine Coast and the Fraser Valley.

Wind chill values in those areas could drop to roughly –20 C.

“It’s potentially record-breaking for the day for minimum temperatures,” Environment Canada meteorologist Kenneth Chan said Monday.

Central and northern B.C. can also expect unusually frigid weather. Extreme cold warnings are in effect from the central coast to the Peace River region, covering the entire area in between.

Environment Canada said “a bitterly cold air mass” is hanging over the region. Extreme wind chills of at least –40 C were expected Monday morning.

Extreme cold warnings are issued when very cold temperatures or wind chill create an elevated risk to health, like the potential for frostbite or hypothermia. 

Symptoms of cold exposure include shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle pain and weakness, numbness and colour change in fingers and toes.

Environment Canada warned frostbite can develop within minutes on exposed skin. The agency advised people under extreme cold warnings to check on loved ones, bring their pets inside and keep emergency supplies like blankets and jumper cables in their cars.

Chan said the last week of December is usually cold in B.C., but this week is out of the ordinary.

“It can happen, but at this time, it’s a little colder than a regular one,” he said.

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