A winter blast from the Arctic: Bitter cold tightens its stranglehold on Manitoba

By | January 29, 2019

A bitterly cold Arctic air mass combined with northwesterly winds is creating extreme cold conditions over the entire province of Manitoba.

Highs around -30 C are expected regardless of where you live, but the wind will make it feel more like -45 C to -50 C. At that rate, frostbite can occur on exposed skin in just two minutes, so bundle up if you need to go out.

Better yet, stay in if there is no need to be outside.

Many school divisions in the province have cancelled classes for Tuesday, while a number of others are not operating school buses.

Check out CBC Manitoba’s Storm Centre for the latest road conditions, school cancellations, business and community closures, and power outages from across the province.

Pedestrians make their way across Portage Avenue on a dark, cold Tuesday morning. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)

The dangerous wind chill values will remain in place over southern Manitoba until a gradual improvement begins on Thursday, according to Environment Canada.

In the north, areas closer to the Nunavut border will also see improvement around that time, but the frigid wind chill values will persist into the second half of the week for all other areas.

“This Arctic outbreak over the next couple of days will be very significant. It’ll likely be the coldest of the winter — certainly is so far,” said CBC meteorologist John Sauder.

Environment Canada urges people to watch for cold-related symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain.
  • Muscle pain and weakness.
  • Numbness and colour change in fingers and toes.

Signs you might have frostbite

If you’re wondering whether you might have frostbite, there are four signs. Health officials call them the four P’s:

  • Pink: Skin appears reddish in colour, and this is usually the first sign.
  • Pain: Skin becomes painful.
  • Patches: White,waxy-feeling patches show when skin is dying.
  • Prickles: Affected areas feel numb.

What to do if you get frostbite

If you notice you have frostbite, do the following:

  • Do not rub or massage affected areas. This can cause more damage.
  • Warm up the area slowly. Use a warm compress or your own body heat to rewarm the area, but don’t use a compress that is too hot. Underarms are a good place to warm frostbitten digits.
  • If toes or feet are frostbitten, try not to walk on them.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you see white- or grey-coloured patches or if the area is numb.