Over the last few days, there has been a lot of hype about the polar vortex currently over Siberia that has generated the Earth’s coldest temperature on record. A weather station in Tongulakh, Siberia recorded a temperature of –62.4 C on Jan. 14.
Early reports by Environment Canada show that this Arctic air blast will continue across the globe and get to Canada in February.
The polar vortex is a swirling mass of cold Arctic air that is in the north and south poles.
“It’s formed there because the poles lack sunshine so they don’t get the warm temperatures,” says Environment Canada Meteorologist, Terri Lang. “The polar vortex weakens in the summer because that’s the time of year that the north pole tilts towards the sun and longer days do happen.”
Lang adds that the polar vortex is always present and isn’t a weather phenomenon. In this case, the hype around the polar vortex is due to the very cold temperatures it created in Siberia.
“This polar vortex that people are talking about is something that doesn’t exist. What they’re really talking about is some of this cold Arctic air that is coming down. They just like to call it the polar vortex but it’s not. That is something that is always there.”
Lang says that yes there will be bone-chilling temperatures but it won’t be irregular for February in Saskatchewan.
“It’s part of winter,” says Lang. February is one of our coldest months. The last two Februarys have been very cold. We’ve seen these temperatures down into the –30s and –40s but nothing out of ordinary.”
“We do get these outbreaks of Arctic Air. The Arctic covers not only covers parts of Canada but it also covers parts of Europe and other eastern countries. As this polar vortex wobbles along we get these offshoots of the colder air.”
The average high for February in Moose Jaw is –4.0 C with the average low being –14.2 C.
The blast of Arctic air will definitely be unwanted, as January has been quite mild so far with an average high of –4.4 C, which is above –6.9-degree average. The above-average temperatures are expected to continue this weekend, as a high of –1 is expected on Saturday, and zero degrees on Sunday.
Moose Jaw will not be receiving similar temperatures seen in Siberia last week because we get more hours of sunlight per day but it still won’t be pleasant.
“We can get temperatures in Saskatchewan towards the –40-mark because that is within our climate and what we do get in February.”
The one positive from this cold blast of winter is that there isn’t any snow expected to fall, as there won't be any moisture in the atmosphere due to the Arctic air. People can expect sunny skies and very cold temperatures.
Lang explains that there are several risks that are associated with temperatures getting down into the –30 and –40 ranges.
“Frostbite, hypothermia, cars not starting, the power grids can be tested, as there is often an increase in power usage and a natural gas spike.”
In addition, these cold temperatures have a severe effect on Moose Jaw’s vulnerable population, along with animals. She suggests taking the proper precautions to make sure you, the people around you, and your pets are protected once these cold temperatures come through.