January in Saskatchewan was neither as hot or cold as you probably remember it.
This month saw streaks of both unseasonable warmth and unbelievable cold. Saskatchewan got somewhere between six and eight days of "thawing temperatures" above zero. David Phillips, Environment Canada's senior climatologist , notes that wasn't nearly as many as Alberta had, but it is well above the meager six hours of above-zero temperatures Winnipeg saw in January.
The City of Saskatoon has postponed its snow clearing program amid fluctuating temperatures and thick ice.
Saskatoon's roller coaster temperatures, which fluctuated between 7 C and -30 C in the past two weeks, have caused an impenetrable top layer of ice on residential roads and the clearing machines can't get a grip.
“It’s extremely difficult for the graders to cut into that (ice),” Director of Public Works Pat Hyde said.
There is SaskEnergy natural gas flowing in Manitoba, but it got there by truck rather than pipeline.
The TransCanada pipeline exploded south of Winnipeg on Saturday, knocking out natural gas service to 4,000 customers. That means many people have been left without heat in the frigid temperatures.
SaskEnergy Communications Director, Dave Burdeniuk, said they immediately offered their help after hearing the news.
"We know what it's like to operate a utility in -40, -50 wind chill and if we can help in this case we are more than happy to," he said.
Wind chill warnings are all around southeastern Saskatchewan.
The wind is creating wind chill values into the -40 C range on top of the already-frigid temperature. Natalie Hasell with Environment Canada explained the conditions are perfect for things to be much colder than normal.
"We've got clear skies that allows a lot of heat to escape in the overnight period. We also have winds from the north, so that keeps bringing down that cold air from the arctic.
She said the big concern is frostbite.
Wind chill warnings on Monday morning have led to a few bus cancellations.
Southeast Cornerstone School Division all bus routes are cancelled in Rocanville, Moosomin, Wapella, Maryfield and Fillmore along with Weyburn rural bus routes. Website.
Standing Buffalo School is open but buses are not running due to the extreme temperatures.
It was a blustery day in South Saskatchewan and it caused a lot of headaches for highway drivers.
With blowing snow and wind chill warnings in place for most of the day Sunday, gusts hit as high as 81 km/h in Regina, and it was much the same everywhere else.
“It’s just been really blowy. It’s been white out conditions. We’re starting to be able to see across the highway but earlier this morning we couldn’t,” said Terri Shaver, an attendant at a highway gas station in Caronport, just before noon.
Blowing snow and strong winds have caused problems on Saskatchewan's highways.
"It's really windy out there this morning," Erika Gudnason with Highway Hotlines said.
"We have lots of travel not recommended around the Regina area. Saskatoon, there is not as much travel not recommended but there is a lot of reduced visibility , drifting snow, and swirling snow."
Even as much of the province sees temperatures near the freezing mark on Saturday, the spectre of more frigid Arctic air is lurking just around the corner.
Environment Canada is warning much of Saskatchewan that a strong cold front is on its way. A major Arctic cold front is forecast for late Saturday night and continues into Sunday, according to a "special weather statement" issued Saturday morning.
Claims are starting to come in from all over Saskatchewan a week after much of the province was dealing with fierce winds that saw gusts exceeding 100 kilometres an hour in some areas.
Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) said it’s already handled 827 total claims. That breaks down to 260 auto claims and 567 property claims, though the Crown insurer reminds us SGI Canada is just one of the home insurers dealing with damage from the storm.
The next week and a half in Saskatchewan could be a roller coaster ride when it comes to the temperature.
As of Monday some colder air will start moving out to the east and warmer air will start moving in from the west. So there will be a temperature gradient across the province.
"A little move in this temperature gradient makes a huge difference in the temperature that we will feel outside," said John Paul Cragg, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada. So as the air masses move, Cragg explained, the temperatures will fluctuate as well.