For the past 16 years, every January has had at least one night with temperatures dropping below -30°. Most years, the mercury drops below -30° for a few days and nights – sometimes right at the beginning of the month, sometimes near the end, but usually right in the middle.  

Many people were anticipating... well, more like hoping, that after the milder than average December, this would be the first January since 2006 when the temperature doesn’t take a drastic drop. An Arctic ridge moving into the Humboldt area, however, has people looking to remember where the heavy coats are, and to plug in their block heaters.  

The forecast calls for temperatures to drop to -30° overnight by the weekend, and barely getting past that mark when it warms up during the day. This brings up the chance of extreme cold warnings being issued by Environment Canada explained meteorologist Alyssa Peterson.  

“Environment Canada typically issues extreme cold warnings when the temperature or the windchill is expected to go below -40°,” Peterson said. “With wind chills, when we are sitting at -33° for an overnight low, it’s not too hard to get there.” 

The shift in weather patterns also brought some snow to the area in recent days. This snow has been pushed around by the winds quite a bit, but it doesn’t mean there could be blowing snow advisories. Peterson explained this is because it is getting so cold.  

“When we usually get systems like this that are going to drop the temperatures so cold, typically the wind isn’t going to be nearly as strong as it would be to get a blowing snow event,” the meteorologist noted. “That being said, there is a little bit of snow potentially forecast for now, so for today and tomorrow, some blowing snow is expected, but there’s not likely to be an advisory issued.” 

So, what is the best way to deal with weather like this? 

“If you can, stay inside,” Peterson recommended. “Try to limit how much you do have to go into the outdoors, but if you do have to go outside, or you work outside, make sure to wear the appropriate clothing.” This can be items such as synthetic and wool fabrics, with layers when possible. A wind-resistant outer layer is also recommended, as is ensuring skin is covered to reduce the chance of frostbite. 

“Gloves and scarves, because wind chill doesn’t really affect anything until there’s exposed skin,” Peterson continued.  

For those who will be travelling in the cold, she suggested checking in before you head out, and to check in when you arrive. Also, ensure the vehicle has an emergency kit that includes something like a blanket, potentially an extra pair of boots and winter clothing, along with something like a candle with some matches. 

“If you end up getting stranded, something as simple as a small candle can actually give a lot of heat until somebody can come out and help out,” she added. 

The coldest temperatures expected are likely going to come Friday and Saturday morning. Still, the ridge will likely stick around into next week, meaning temperatures in the -20s could be around for a bit longer yet.  

(With files from DiscoverHumboldt staff)