Christmas Day will kick off a prolonged Alberta cold snap

Santa Claus may want to don this warmest red suit before traversing the skies over Alberta this weekend. 

The weather outside will be frightfully frigid in Alberta over the holidays.

Much of the province is headed into a prolonged deep freeze and Environment Canada says the forecast isn’t expected to thaw out until the new year. 

The extreme weather will linger over the coming week and Albertans planning to spend their holidays enjoying the outdoors may see those plans put on ice.

Already frosty temperatures will plunge over the weekend with the downward trend taking hold on Christmas Day.

The clouds will clear a bit and it will get even colder.– Kyle Fougère

“We’re starting to see an Arctic air mass come down over the province of Alberta,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Kyle Fougère.

“The worst of it won’t quite have arrived by Christmas day but it is going to be quite a bit below normal.

“After that, the clouds will clear a bit and it will get even colder.” 

Edmontonians can expect to wake up to a high of around –22 C and a low of around –24 C on Christmas day. 

December 25 has an average high of –6 C with an overnight low of around –15 C in Edmonton. The coldest Christmas on record in the city was –39.4 C in 1880. 

In Calgary, there will be snow on Christmas morning with temperatures steady around –24 C and Environment Canada is warning of a frostbite risk.

The final weeks of December will see much of Alberta move into a prolonged deep freeze. (David Bajer/CBC)

The breathtaking cold is only expected to get more extreme early next week. 

Extreme cold warnings will likely be issued in communities across the province over the weekend as the worst of the biting temperatures take hold, he said. 

Temperatures are expected to plunge to lows between –30 C and –40 C. Daytime temperatures will remain frigid, sitting around -25 C, Fougère said.  

“It looks like early next week will probably be the worst of the cold,” Fougère said.

“Daytime highs could be as high as the mid –20s, but there might be some days where we don’t even reach that.”

A Siberian blast

Fougère advises drivers to ensure their vehicles are stocked with an emergency kit that includes a candle and blanket before travelling.

Anyone braving the cold should bundle up, protect their skin from the elements and keep their time outside to a minimum, he said.

A low pressure system chilled by snowy vistas of Siberia is to blame for the frosty temperatures, Fougère said.

The blast of Arctic air is expected to remain stubbornly in place for days, keeping central Alberta on ice for at least a week. 

“Because this Arctic air is really cold and dense, it’s really hard to displace. When these happen, they can stick around for quite a while,” Fougère said. 

“It’s difficult to say when exactly things are going to improve in Alberta.”

An icy mass of air from Siberia will be moving across the province in the days ahead, keeping central Alberta on ice. (Wallis Snowdon/CBC)

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