Frigid temps continue to grip Canada

Most of Canada remains in the icy grip of Old Man Winter for a fourth-straight day, with forecasters predicting the bone-chilling cold won’t let up until the weekend.

The frigid temperatures are all due to an Arctic air mass that has stalled over most of Eastern Canada.

In Atlantic Canada, Environment Canada says most areas are looking at temperatures in the low to mid minus-20s Thursday. Several schools in northwest New Brunswick have been closed because of the icy temperatures.

In Montreal, temperatures plummeted to -26 C Wednesday, leading to a number of burst pipes throughout the city.

With power failures reported across the province, Hydro-Quebec has been forced to buy additional power from Ontario and the United States, and is urging customers to cut electricity usage in peak hours.

In the nation’s capital, CTV Ottawa’s Jeff Hopper says the city has been under a wind chill and frostbite warning for the last three days, with the wind chill dropping to around -40 on Wednesday.

“People are very cold and getting sick of it,” Hopper told Canada AM Thursday morning.

He says for the last few years, Ottawa residents have been complacent with the weather because of mild temperatures.

“In fact, last year was referred to as ‘The winter that wasn’t.’ So this is kind of shock to folks in Ottawa.”

On Wednesday, Toronto shivered through temperatures of around -15 C -– not as bad as some areas of the country, but still the coldest temperatures the city has seen in two years.

In northern Ontario, communities such as Timmins, North Bay, Fort Albany and Attawapiskat have it much worse and are being warned to expect temperatures of around -35 C Thursday, with wind chills of -50 C.

Provincial police throughout Ontario were warning drivers to slow down and to make sure they carry a winter vehicle kit in case their vehicle breaks down. That means blankets, a cellphone , jumper cables, and extra food and water.

Over in Winnipeg, CTV’s Jill Macyshon says every driver in the city knows they need to have their car plugged in if they want to have any chance of having it start up in the morning. She says it’s been about two years since the city felt temperatures this cold, but most Winnipeggers have already learned to adapt.

“The wind child is getting down to about -40 and it’s been like that for four days. But amazingly, you’ll still see bike couriers, you’ll still people out on the river skiing or skating,” she says.

In the U.S. Upper Midwest, waves of Arctic air have swept south from Canada, pushing temperatures to dangerous lows, leading to the deaths of at least four people so far.

Here in Canada, a volunteer-based organization called Project Winter Survival is working to prevent exposure-related deaths of homeless people in the Greater Toronto Area by providing kits with essential survival supplies.

“This our 14th year, and sadly, we’re still going. We wish we weren’t but we are,” program coordinator Marnie Zamperoni told Canada AM Thursday.

Since 2000, Project Winter Survival has assembled and distributed more than 18,000 kits containing 30 items, including blankets, hats, scarves, gloves, and personal care products.

This week, the organization will expand outside of Toronto for the first time, hosting a kit packing event in Vancouver Friday, which will then be distributed to homeless people by local agencies such as The Salvation Army and youth services organizations.

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