Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Chill Out: Environment Canada Plans Changes to Wind Chill Warnings

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Chill Out: Environment Canada Plans Changes to Wind Chill Warnings

Article excerpt

Chill out: Weather office changes cold warnings

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EDMONTON - The federal government is working on a new way to warn Canadians about the need to protect themselves from the dangers of frigid weather.

Right now, Environment Canada issues wind chill warnings when cold temperatures and wind speeds combine to exceed health-threatening thresholds, which differ depending on where you live across the country.

Under a program being developed with Health Canada, the weather office would issue an Extreme Cold Warning when temperatures plunge to dangerous levels, even if winds are calm.

"Working outside in the cold air there is still the possibility that you can get frostbite on a nice cold day with light winds," said Blair Morrow, an Environment Canada meteorologist working on the project.

"We just want to provide Canadians with advance warning to take the necessary steps to protect themselves."

Morrow said a brutally cold day in Edmonton in early December illustrates why such a change is needed. This Dec. 6, Environment Canada issued a wind chill warning for an area when the temperature dipped to -30 C and winds hit 19 km/h, producing a face-numbing wind chill of -42 C.

Under the current system, no warning would have been issued had the temperature plunged to -42 C and the winds been light, even though the threat of frostbite or hypothermia would have been just as high.

Morrow said when the new system is introduced, perhaps as early as in 2014, Canadians will no longer see separate wind chill warnings in Environment Canada forecasts or on its website.

Wind chill and cold temperatures will be included together in the Extreme Cold Warnings.

"When the program is implemented, the new Extreme Cold Warning will be issued in situations of cold temperature and light winds to allow Canadians to take necessary steps to protect their health. …

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