Weather forecasters say that Manitobans should prepare for extreme cold not just through the weekend, but into next week at the very least, as "a long period of extreme wind chill is expected as an Arctic air mass sets in over the eastern Prairies."

Environment Canada says that Winnipeg and most of southern Manitoba will experience overnight lows tonight of at least -40 if not colder, and the daytime won't be much better. Most of the province is currently gripped under extreme cold warnings on Saturday morning.

Saturday's high in the capital is expected to be -24 with a wind chill of -34 in the afternoon. Frostbite can occur in just minutes at such low temperatures, the weather service reminds residents.

Sunday morning will continue to see wind chill values of -42 in Winnipeg. A daytime high of -22 with winds at 15 km/h could mean wind chills of -30 in the afternoon. The temperature is then expected to drop down to -29 overnight.

Right now, meteorologists are forecasting daytime highs for next week around -21, and overnight lows continuing to drop from -28 to -31.

Shift in polar vortex

Senior Climatologist with Environment Canada, David Phillips, warned in the middle of January that a polar vortex that was over Siberia at the time was expected to begin shifting.

Up until now, winter has been relatively mild by Manitoban standards. On average, the daytime high has been four degrees warmer than a usual January. From Christmas Day, to Jan. 10, 2023, there was only one day where the temperature dipped below -20 for Winnipeg. Usually, there is an average of 12 days that cold through the same timeframe. 

The shifting polar vortex is just beginning to arrive over Canada, and that means colder temperatures could be on the horizon for the next couple of weeks.

Current watches and warnings

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With files from Shannon Dueck