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As extreme cold weather descends on Calgary 'you just have to keep moving'

Last Updated Feb 9, 2019 at 4:35 pm MDT

Craig Zemp clears snow from the sidewalk as temperatures hover around -40C. (PHOTO: Megan McPhaden, 660 NEWS)

Extreme cold warning issued in Calgary, along with many parts of Alberta

Windchills could reach minus 40 in Calgary, leading to an extreme cold warning

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Calgary is back under an extreme cold warning, and wind chills could reaching the minus 40 mark.

Some parts of Alberta could see wind chills as low as minus 50.

Environment Canada is advising people to stay indoors and avoid spending extended periods of time outside. However, for some people who work outside, like Craig Zemp, a snow removal worker, there’s no escaping the cold snap.

“I mean I’ve been out in -48 C, and it was okay. Minus 48 and we still work; it just depends how you feel about it,” he said. “I don’t know what the rules are, but money makes me work” not staying home out of the weather.

It’s been a particularly challenging day for Zemp, whose endured a long exposure to the cold weather as two of his machines broke down, doubling the time he’s had to spend outside from two and a half hours to five.

In this selfie he took, Craig Zemp's eyelashes are frozen after removing snow in -40C. (Craig Zemp)
In this selfie he took, Craig Zemp’s eyelashes are frozen after removing snow in -40C. (Craig Zemp)


His face is barely visible underneath his winter outerwear, which is key for preventing frostbite and hypothermia.

“Layers I think…just enough clothes to stay warm. When you wear too much you sweat, and get cold,” he said with a laugh. “You just have to keep moving.”

Environment Canada’s extreme cold warning indicates a brief reprieve around noon before dipping back down to around -40 C.

“It looks like conditions will improve a little bit tomorrow [Sunday] but generally speaking this area of cold air is set to hang over most of Alberta basically for the foreseeable future,” Justin Patten, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said.

The weather organization said Albertans can expect extreme cold conditions to occur overnight and in the morning throughout the weekend and even into Wednesday.

The bitter cold presents challenges, not only for humans and pets but livestock as well, who are at risk.

In these temperatures, extremities can freeze within a matter of minutes causing frostbite or triggering hypothermia. However, if you’re driving through the prairies and see some cows weathering the cold, you probably don’t have to worry.

According to Dr. Melissa Moggy with Alberta Farm Animal Care, farmers can change the food the animals eat to help them combat the cold.

“They will institute a winter feeding protocol where they supply a high-energy feed so that even though their animals have increased their metabolic rate, they’re not burning off more fat than they’re eating, and they’re not losing weight,” she said.

If anyone is concerned about the health of livestock during inclement weather, the alert line is 1-800-506-2273 and they will send out a crew to check.

With files from Tom Ross, Lisa Grant and Megan McPhaden.