Cold Winters in Edmonton and Surroundings

Update 2019 02 27: Added information by Alberta Climate Information Service (ACIS).

We don’t live in Edmonton but in nearby Bruderheim, Alberta, about 50km NE from Edmonton. It generally gets to be a bit colder here than in the big city. We don’t have the benefit of a large Urban Heat Island effect. That effect is quite substantial, but even Bruderheim, a town of about 1,300 residents, has a bit of an Urban Heat Island effect, compared to surrounding ruralities.

It was -31°C in town, this morning, while one of our friends stated that it was -37°C, this morning, ten miles to the NE, and another friend, living just outside the fence at Elk Island National Park, saw that his thermometer read -44°C last night.

Cold Winters in History compared to now

The current winter is a darned cold one, week after week.

The weather permits to set all sort of records. One must make sure to pick the right selection criteria for that. The TV weathermen are really good at it. They pick them right and produce a record temperature (high or low) for a lot of days.

‘Longest winter of my life’: Edmonton breaks record with historic cold stretch
CTV News | April 14, 2018 1:19PM EDT

Temperature of -46C in Edmonton area makes it coldest in Canada
The Canadian Press | Sun, 13 Dec 2009 20:25 UTC

Edmonton shatters cold record

That was not in Edmonton. The article states: “Environment Canada recorded a frigid minus 46.1 C, or minus 58.4 C with the wind chill, at the Edmonton International Airport at 5 a.m., said meteorologist Pierre Lessard.”  The Edmonton International Airport was then (and still is, as far as I know) outside the Edmonton city limits.

See also a temperature record of the Edmonton winter 2009/2010

The Edmonton Journal article mentions the year with the previous coldest winter: “The city’s longest cold snap was in 1969 when the temperature never got warmer than -20 C for 26 consecutive days. The Journal handed out certificates to survivors.”

 Well, I had the year wrong (I was off by a year), when I was looking for information on that, but the Edmonton Journal, I am fairly sure, has the temperature wrong. I am quite certain that the criterion was -10°F (-23.3°C). Still, it is not the first or only time I’ve been wrong. I was also wrong about the number of weeks. It was that cold only for 26 days. I had thought that it had been that cold for about 6 weeks in a row. So much for the accuracy of my memory.

I could not obtain a detailed record for the winter 1968/69, but check this one, for the Edmonton temperature record of the winter 1975/76.

During the winter of 1975/76 even Edmonton had a day when the temperature went as low as -46°C.

My long-range prediction, going by the seat of my pants? I’ll be considerably warmer in June, with only a slight chance of frost on any given day. Yes, I have seen it snow even in June, once or twice during the last 55 years or so. It does not even have to be below freezing for that to happen, but we rarely get a lot of snow in this part of the world, especially not during June.

It was cold last night, but tomorrow it is supposed to warm up to -4°C, and then we are in for another week or so of much colder, unseasonably cold weather.

What about Climate Change? Are things warming up or getting colder? 

You decide whether things are warming up or getting colder, with regard to the climate trend.  The following is a graph of temperature measurements and their daily averages (T = (Tmax + Tmin) / 2), for Elk Island Park National Park, the closest and only nearby official weather station operated by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Weather and climate change information for the interval from 2017 02 27 to 2019 02 27

See glossary of terms.

For anyone who wishes to get an idea of whether growing conditions are changing  in Alberta, as time goes by, here are links to a viewer that shows growing conditions near Elk Island National Park for the years 1961 to 2017, in terms of:


See also:

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