The polar vortex has brought snowy weather and freezing temperatures to the Ontario area lately. Now, it's been reported that the polar vortex is moving away from Ontario is now hitting Western Canada instead. Last week, a snowstorm hit Ontario hard and brought with it bitterly cold temperatures as low as -50°C and 50 km/hr winds.
BC and Alberta were enjoying spring-like weather but are now preparing to get hit by extremely cold temperatures. An "arctic flow" will drop temperatures in parts of BC to as low as -45°C. Vancouver is also getting colder than seasonal temperatures and Environment Canada issued a cold weather and snowfall warning yesterday.
"An arctic ridge of high pressure over the BC Interior is forcing strong outflow winds through coastal inlets from the North Coast to Howe Sound and the lower Fraser Valley," warns Environment Canada. "Be prepared for unusually cold temperatures and strong winds".
In Alberta, almost the entire province is currently experiencing extremely cold weather warnings. Check out what the Environment Canada's weather warning map for Alberta looks like right now below – almost the entire province is highlighted.
There are wind chills between -40°C to -50°C in Alberta today. "Cold arctic air remains entrenched across much of Alberta," warns Environment Canada. "The cold arctic air is expected to remain through most of the week." Schools and ski hills in Calgary even shut down due to the cold temperatures.
What is the polar vortex and why is it now hitting Western Canada? "The polar vortex is basically cold air that builds over the Arctic – depending on the weather pattern, that air can then move into different parts of the country," meteorologist Ross Hull told Global News. "This week, the upper-level flow of the atmosphere is directing it towards Western Canada – giving Canadians there a taste of the polar vortex."
If you look at the map of Canada's temperatures right now from Environment Canada, you can see that although the western side is experiencing sunnier weather, there are also experiencing much harsher and colder temperatures than on the east coast.
The map shows that cities in provinces like Alberta, BC, and Saskatchewan are seeing cold temperatures as low as -26°C. Meanwhile, cities on the east coast, like Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Ottawa have temperatures much closer or even warmer than 0°C. Toronto is even enjoying much warmer winter temperatures of 9°C today.
In Alberta, the cold arctic air is expected to stay through most of the week, according to Environment Canada. "Frostbite can develop within minutes on exposed skin, especially with wind chill," the agency warns. In BC, conditions are expected to improve mid-week, according to Environment Canada.
Meanwhile, Ontario can enjoy much warmer temperatures than what the province experienced last week. Environment Canada has dropped their extreme cold weather warning for southern parts of the province, such as the GTA, and warmer, above seasonal temperatures, are hitting the city.