Some workers in Grande Prairie got an unexpected snow day Monday when the extreme cold forced the county to put a temporary stop to its snow removal operations.
“It’s brutal,” said Dale Van Volkingburgh, public works manager for the County of Grande Prairie.
“It’s like a knife cutting through you.”
County policy mandates that outdoor work must stop when temperatures drop lower than -40 C in order to protect employees and avoid damaging equipment.
At 10 a.m. Monday, it was -43 C in Grande Prairie, with a wind chill that made it feel like -52 C, according to Environment Canada. For most of the day, the northern city was the coldest spot in Alberta.
An icy fog settled on the city during the morning, which impacted visibility, said Van Volkingburgh.
“It was pretty difficult for people to manoeuvre around.”
Many commuters struggled to start their vehicles and worried about reaching their destination, he added.
“There were some concerns,” he said. “It was not a fun morning for anybody if you had to be out in that type of weather.”
Non-essential county staff were invited to return home early, said Van Volkingburgh.
Surprise store closure
For at least one small business in the city, the weather literally put the shop into a deep-freeze for the day.
Store manager Liah Parsons opened Canna Cabana without any issues in the morning, but Old Man Winter had different plans for her.
“I had to run and go do some errands so I closed it up and locked everything up. When I came back, the doors were all frozen shut,” Parsons said Monday.
She wasn’t able to pry the doors open.
“We’re just going to have to wait for it to warm up,” Parsons said. “Hopefully we can get back in the store and open tomorrow and get back to work.”
Customers looking to purchase cannabis accessories from the shop were surprised to find the store temporarily closed, she said.
“They were super understanding when we explained the situation to them.”
Parsons said she’ll be enjoying her unexpected snow day from the comforts of home.
“Don’t go outside, it’s a trap,” she laughed.