Extreme cold: When temperatures drop, these things just stop

Extreme cold: When temperatures drop, these things just stop

It is winter in Winnipeg. It is cold. That is expected. The fact that we consistently soldier on in sub-zero temperatures while the rest of the country seems to seize up, is even a source of pride.

But sometimes, it is just too cold. Some things don’t work when the mercury dips below certain levels.

Thursday, southern Manitoba was under an extreme cold warning, with below normal temperatures and high windchill values expected to continue into the weekend and beyond.

In fact, Global News weather specialist Mike Koncan says the cold is more than even weather trackers are made to handle.

“The GFS model doesn’t have a colour to describe the cold we would be dealing with next week. It’s showing blank spots for forecast temperatures colder than something around -35 Celsius.”

The white or uncoloured section of the map shows a forecast temperature that is even too low for the colour scale.

When it is cold enough, even in Manitoba, cars don’t start, exhaust fog reduces visibility, pets don’t want to go outside, your winter jacket makes that papery-crackle sound and even talking is tough. And then there are the things that just don’t work.

If you haven’t yet experienced them for yourself — things that don’t work in extreme cold — we’ve compiled a list:

Automatic car washes

Garage door openers

Hydraulic hinges on household and vehicle doors

Cell phones

Cameras (or anything with a battery, actually)

LED street lights

Frozen water pipes

Parking metres

Add to these a list of things that just don’t work properly, like extension cords, door handles/knobs, car alarms, fluorescent lights, plastic grocery bags.

In all these cases, it is a matter of function — whether components freeze up or liquids congeal, whatever — some things just don’t work at extreme low temperatures.

In other cases, however, it is a matter of safety.

School divisions keep elementary students indoors for recess, and may cancel field trips when temperatures drop into the extreme zone. They will also cancel bus service. Whether rural or within city boundaries, many schools suspend school bus service in severe weather.

“The general rule is that if the wind chill is -45 C or colder at The Forks (as posted by Environment Canada at about 6:10 a.m.), we cancel buses for the whole day but schools usually remain open,” says the River East Transcona website.

We found similar wording on school division sites.

And there is more. Ski hills and outdoor attractions will close during extreme temperatures. Community centres discourage use of outdoor skating rinks.

The City of Winnipeg has a page with information about staying safe during extreme cold on their website, including the following:

For most of us in Manitoba, “cold” is a matter of temperature and tolerance, but sometimes, it has a look too…


Bundle up, it’s another cold day in southern Manitoba.

Winnipeg and southern Manitoba prepare for a bitterly cold Christmas.

Winnipeg fire crews fought a house fire in the North End Dec. 29.

Manitoba is again under extreme cold warnings on Monday morning. This photo of sun dogs north of Niverville was taken by viewer Madison Laurie on Thursday.

Wendy Erlendson sent us this photo of a cold and windy Highway 16 on Wednesday morning.

The sun shines on Lake of the Prairies, Man., near the Saskatchewan border. Southern Manitoba is under an extreme cold warning early Monday.

Environment Canada has issued and extreme cold warning for parts of southern Manitoba.

Extreme cold warning continues for Kingston and area — but even sunny skies takes the chill off.

“Cold” is a matter of temperature and tolerance, but sometimes, it has a look too…

Snow and cold are causing slippery conditions in southern Manitoba.

Springhill Winter Park, closed during an extreme cold spell.

Have a picture that shows just how crazy cold it is? Send it to us at [email protected] and we might add it to the photo gallery.

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