With parts of Northern Alberta expecting the temperature to drop-down to -40 Celsius this upcoming week, Lac La Biceh County officials are reminding citizens to take extra precautions.
Environment Canada sent out an Extreme Cold Warning on Friday, Jan. 10 for multiple locations across north, north central and northeastern Alberta, including High Level, Wood Buffalo, Fort Chipewyan and Lac La Biche County, with windchills possibly dropping down to as low as -45 in some parts of the province.
Although residents are encouraged to stay inside during these extreme temperatures, there are preparations in place in Lac La Biche County to help those who may not be prepared for the temperature drop.
Grace Miller, a board member of the Lakeland Out of the Elements Shelter, says the organization has extended its hours for those needing a place to stay warm.
Miller told th POST that typically they are closed between 1 pm- 6 pm due to not having the funding to pay someone to come in during those hours, but they have volunteers who have offered to help out until the weather gets better. Their efforts have also been supported by community members looking to donate funds to teh shelter.
One donor has offered to pay for an employee to come in and help out if there turns out to be a shortage of volunteers, says Miller.
Kids in school
Schools such as Vera M.Welsh Elementary are also cautioning parents to make sure kids are dressed for the weather before dropping them off at school.
“That includes layering, ski pants, toques, and mitts,” says Vera's Administrative Assistant Brenda Cote.
Even though temperatures will be close to 40 degrees below freezing in some parts, area schools will remain open, regardless of whether or not the buses are running, Cote explains.
School district policy in the area's francophone, Catholic and public schools is that the door stay open every day, no matter the weather. Although classes may be adjusted due to what becomes a much reduced student population, the schools are open.
Most school systems operating in the region have a digital network for reaching parents about bus route cancellations due to poor weather conditions. Officials with the Northern Lights Public Schools say that parents can still bring children to the schools.
The Lac La Biche County Protective Services Department says their peace officers will have increased patrols in some of the rural and surrounding areas looking for motorists who are left stranded in the cold, or residents who may be experiencing difficulties.
Manager of Enforcement Services Sgt. Chris Clark says that anyone who has to be outside during the upcoming days should take extra precaution by having an emergency kit in their vehicle and that their phones be fully charged in case they need to call for help.
Peace officers will give a ride to anyone out in the cold and will help to find a place to stay for any motorists stranded during the extreme cold snap.
Lac La Biche RCMP officers will also be on alert during their shifts, says Lac La Biche RCMP Staff Sgt. Jerry Nutbrown.
"During patrols, RCMP members always remain aware of anyone at risk due to extreme weather. Additionally, some patrols will be specifically conducted during times of extreme weather to look for people possibly exposed to where their health and safety is at risk," Nutbrown told the POST.
If police locate someone at risk, accommodations are found for them either through family and friends or through agencies including the local shelters.
"At no time would we allow someone to remain in harms way and we would work with them until they have somewhere to warm stay," said Nutbrown.
A cold week
The extreme cold is expected to remain over northern Alberta throughout the week and into next week. While mid-week daily high temperatures are only expected to hit the -32 range, snow flurries forecast for the same time are expected to taper off by the weekend. Temperatures forecast for the weekend are still cold with Environment Canada saying the daytime highs for Saturday and Sunday are only at minus 24 Celsius.
The rest of the week's forecast fo the region:
Tue, Jan. 14
Day: Sunny. High minus 31.
Night: Clear. Low minus 37.
Wed, Jan. 15
Day: Sunny. High minus 29.
Night: Clear. Low minus 32.
Thu, Jan. 16
Day: Cloudy. High minus 24.
Night: Cloudy with 60 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 29.
Fri, Jan. 17
Day: A mix of sun and cloud. High minus 23.