Record-breaking chill for Elk Valley

Sparwood was the chilliest town in the province on Friday.

  • Mar. 7, 2011 3:00 p.m.
Heavy snowfall covered the Elk Valley this week.

Heavy snowfall covered the Elk Valley this week.

Sparwood was the chilliest town in the province on Friday.

A high pressure area from up in the Yukon came down to the Elk Valley early Friday morning, resulting in a temperature of -31 Celsius being recorded at Environment Canada’s Elk Valley weather station in Sparwood at 7 a.m.

No other town in B.C. recorded a temperature so cold and there has not been a colder temperature recorded in the town in February since 1939, when it reached -34 on February 3.

“It’s very unusual to see temperatures this cold in February, especially late February,” said Environment Canada forecaster John McIntyre. “The sun usually has some strength this time of year. It’s really surprising.”

The cold temperatures last week had the lifts at Fernie Alpine Resort closed on Thursday morning.

“Below about -28 degrees, our staff make a call about whether to shut the lifts or not,” said Matt Mosteller, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Fernie Alpine Resort.

“We try to keep them open as much as possible, and there are some hardcore skiers in our community that want to ski no matter how cold it is.

“However, the safety of our guests is the most important thing, and some people may not be aware of how quickly frostbite can develop, and how serious it is.

“So a combination of that, and the fact that machinery does not react well to that kind of cold, means sometimes we have to decide to stop loading guests on the lifts.”

Mosteller said resort staff are also told to check guests’ faces as they get on the lifts, to make sure they are well covered and not developing the first signs of frostbite.

“The good news is that the cold temperatures meant that when the storm hit on Sunday, we were in for some light, powdery snow!”

The current snow storm is set to move away Thursday, but Environment Canada said there will be another, smaller system hitting the Valley on Friday.

“There will be some snow, but not as much as earlier in the week,” said McIntyre. “It will also be quite windy so will really feel wintery.”