Edmonton is in the midst of unprecedented temperatures, with the potential for three consecutive days of record-breaking cold.
The extreme cold has also strained Alberta's energy grid: the Alberta Electric System Operator reported record demand earlier this week, then the Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) issued an emergency alert Saturday evening, stating the the grid was at high risk of rotating power outages. AEMA rescinded the alert Saturday night.
"We basically had an Arctic ridge of high pressure that was pulled down from the Northwest Territories near the end of last week and has persisted through the weekend," explained Thomas Anderson, of Environment Canada.
Temperatures at the Edmonton International Airport broke records Friday, dipping down to -45.9 C. The previous daily record was -39.4 C, recorded in 1969, Anderson said.
Saturday's low hit -45.3 C, which broke the previous record of -41.7 C, he said. But there is potential for a third day of record-breaking cold Sunday, as the forecast predicts a low of -43 C.
The emergency management agency sent an alert to people's cellphones around 6:45 p.m. Saturday, warning them frigid temperatures had led to increased demand for electricity, and the province's grid was at risk of a brownout.
Minister of Affordability and Utilities Nathan Neudorf issued a statement minutes later, asking Albertans to limit their electricity usage to essentials only.
Neudorf and the alert pleaded for Albertans to take several actions, such as turning off all unnecessary appliances and lights, delaying charging of devices and electric vehicles, and avoiding using high energy consuming devices.
Electricity demand across the province dropped 100 megawatts almost immediately after the alert was issued, according to the Alberta Electric System Operator.
The emergency management agency lifted its alert shortly before 9 p.m. MT.
Travel being impacted
The Arctic air has carried some very cold temperatures and wind chills, which create risks of frostbite and hypothermia, Anderson said.
"To reduce your risk, you're looking to wear the appropriate clothing, making sure you're dressing in layers, you're covering all that exposed skin," he said.
Muhammad Khan was affected by cold temperatures at the airport this weekend, where several of his flights were cancelled due to weather. Khan said he didn't know his flights had been cancelled due to weather until he got to the airport.
Now, he's not so sure about travelling in December and January.
"It's very cold," he said. "I had no idea before but now I know. I won't be [doing] any more travelling in these months."
Muhammad Khan found out the cold resulted in several of his flights getting cancelled at the Edmonton International Airport on Jan. 13, 2024. ( Maxime Lamache/Radio-Canada)
Edmontonians travelling by car might also be out of luck. Wait times for the Alberta Motor Association are 156 hours for towing and 132 hours for a boost.
On Monday, Edmontonians can expect slightly more mild air moving in Anderson said, with a high of -18 C.
"Not as bitterly cold, but still cold compared to what we've experienced ... this winter so far."