It’s so cold in Calgary that the penguins at the zoo can’t get out. It’s so cold in Edmonton that an ice castle attraction is closed until at least Saturday. It is so cold in Saskatoon that a local yarn store reported a 30 percent increase in sales while weavers were preparing for a long stretch inside. In Vancouver, a city that is not used to the worst winter weather, buses get stuck in the snow and travelers push them. The SkyTrain city gates are freezing.
Alberta is using its energy reserves and Saskatchewan cannot export energy to help its western neighbor due to its own electrical crisis. In British Columbia, dozens of ferry routes have been canceled due to “predicted winds of hurricane force,” according to the service.
Environment Canada has issued “extreme cold” warnings for each region of Alberta and Saskatchewan as a cold wave spreads over western Canada. The British Columbia fringes face a more diverse list of warnings, including alerts of extreme cold, Arctic departure, wind and snowfall. The cold is putting pressure on transit networks, power grids and homeless shelters.
The king penguins at the Calgary Zoo were scheduled to take their first outdoor walk of 2020 on Monday, but the animal keepers canceled it because it was too cold. The same happened on Tuesday and Wednesday. It was hotter in Antarctica than Calgary on Wednesday. The zoo will not allow waddlers, who are native to the sub-Antarctic, to go outside when it is colder than -25 C.
“They don’t have coats, but we do, so there are no excuses,” the zoo said on Twitter.
Environment Canada expects Calgary to reach a maximum of -27 on Thursday. Only a few minutes of exposure will cause freezing. The Calgary Shelter Center issued a request for winter equipment earlier this week and the Calgary Flames Foundation donated $ 5,000 in boots, coats and other necessities, tweeted the emergency shelter. A Canadian clothing company that donates 10 percent of its profits to charities on Wednesday delivered 500 tuques, 200 pairs of socks, 50 towels and 50 bottles of shampoo to the Drop-In Center, according to Local Laundry co-owner Dustin Paisley .
Alpha House, one of the city’s shelters, said people have also increased their donations. “They are being used as soon as they enter,” said Shaundra Bruvall, a spokeswoman for the shelter.
Alpha House, which has 120 beds, has more capacity at this time, but will not reject anyone. The YWCA network of shelters in Prince Albert, Sask., Is exceeding its capacity, according to Donna Brooks, executive director of the organization. The Lethbridge Resource and Shelter Center, which has 111 beds available, is operating under its capacity, according to manager Collette Ryostock. “A good surprise,” he said.
In Calgary, firefighters responded to a house fire after someone used an open flame to defrost frozen pipes.
The transit authority of the Vancouver region, known as TransLink, advised travelers to stay home on Wednesday. He said that both bus operations and SkyTrain were “significantly affected” due to bad weather with many bus stops closed and routes canceled.
Meanwhile, schools in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island canceled classes on Wednesday. But the children were not the only ones free on a snowy day. Classes at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria were also rejected.
While snow is the main culprit in B.C., low temperatures are behind the problems in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Energy demand in Alberta set a record for maximum consumption on Tuesday, with residents burning up to 11,698 megawatts, exceeding the previous record set in 2018 by one megawatt, the province’s energy authority said in a tweet.
Alberta plunged into its electricity reserves and the Alberta Electric System Operator activated its emergency energy alert protocol, a three-tier system that balances supply and demand on Monday.
Alberta generally looked east to Saskatchewan to help cover the deficit, AESO spokeswoman Tara de Weerd said. But with deep freezing in that province that also generates an almost record energy demand, Alberta relied on imports from B.C. and Montana
Saskatchewan had only 70 megawatts less than a record system load after demand reached 3,722 megawatts at the end of Tuesday afternoon. SaskPower spokesman Joel Cherry said the Crown corporation was importing energy from Manitoba and the United States to help meet provincial needs.
Weavers and their crochet relatives are among the best prepared for cold brooches, which often cause supply sales to increase. In Saskatoon, sales of The Wool Emporium increased approximately 30 percent before the cold wave, according to Glenda Hudson, who owns the store. Sales at The Loop Kensington in Calgary increased approximately 50 percent in the days before the cold arrived.
“When the weatherman says it’s very cold, it’s like, watch out,” said Annie Ritter, co-owner of the Loop.
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