Fairy Creek Falls are seen nearly frozen after a bout of extreme cold hit the Elk Valley. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Elk Valley plunges into the deep freeze

Sunday was the second coldest February 10 since records began in Sparwood in 1969

It’s official – this past weekend was one of the coldest in 50 years.

Outdoor events were cancelled and the Elk River nearly completely froze over as the mercury plunged to nearly -30C, with wind chill making it seem even colder.

Sunday was the second coldest February 10 since records began in Sparwood in 1969, with a minimum temperature of -27.5C recorded.

February 10, 1981, maintains the minimum temperature record of -33C.

However, the weekend’s cold snap did set two new records for lowest maximum temperature.

On Saturday, the temperature rose to only -18.8C, beating the 2008 record of -16.7C.

On Sunday, the top temperature recorded was -15.3C, nearly two degrees colder than the previous record of -13.5C set in 1981.

“We had some pretty chilly arctic air in place, hence there were some extreme cold warnings in many parts of B.C.,” said Environment and Climate Change Canada meteorologist Bobby Sekhon on Monday.

“It was cold for several days there but we’re starting to see things getting less cold now as the weather system shifts and we’re starting to get into snow, starting tonight.”

Sekhon noted Environment and Climate Change Canada does not keep official records of wind chill values, which are used to convey the cold to the public.

On Friday, the agency reissued an extreme cold warning for the Elk Valley, with wind chill values as low as -40C expected over the next 24 hours.

The warning forced Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR) to postpone the Raging Elk Kinky Rail Jam, scheduled for Saturday, to a later date.

“We apologize for any inconvenience but look forward to hosting the event with warmer temps where competitors can focus on executing their tricks and impressing the judges, and we can get a large spectator crowd full of family and friends to cheer on the competitors, especially the little groms, to keep the stoke high,” the resort said in a statement to The Free Press.

FAR is yet to announce a new date for the competition.

The good news is the coming week should be warmer with the promise of snow from Monday.

“At least in the foreseeable future, in the next week or so, we shouldn’t be in the extreme cold range but winter is not over and we could still see some below normal temperatures for the rest of February,” said Sekhon.

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