Frigid cold continues ahead of expected snowstorm

An extreme cold warning remains in effect for Ottawa and the region, with frigid temperatures expected to last through the weekend.

The temperature recorded at the Ottawa Airport at 7 a.m. was -27 C, with a wind chill of -38. While some warming will naturally occur Saturday afternoon, expect another bitterly cold day on Sunday.

"After moderating this afternoon, extreme cold wind chill values to minus 35 are forecast again tonight into early Sunday morning," Environment Canada warned.

The forecast for Ottawa calls for sunshine and a high of -19 C Saturday afternoon with a wind chill around -26. Overnight, the sky will remain clear. The temperature should drop to a low of -15 C with wind chills of -30 or colder.

Sunday, expect a high of -15 C with a wind chill around -22 and plenty of sunshine in the afternoon. Clouds move in Sunday evening, bringing snow.

A winter storm watch from Environment Canada cautions that 25 to 40 cm of snow is possible Sunday night and Monday, with the possibility of peak snowfall rates of 2 to 5 cm per hour Monday morning.

"There remains uncertainty in the exact track of the system which will affect where the area of heaviest snow sets up," the weather statement says. "Avoid travel if possible. Travel is expected to be hazardous due to reduced visibility in some locations. Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery. There may be a significant impact on rush hour traffic in urban areas."

Monday's forecast does include an end to the extreme cold, with a high of -5 C.

Tuesday's outlook is partly sunny with a high of -12 C.


Ottawa Public Health has issued a frostbite warning for Ottawa.

"With a wind chill of -35 or colder, exposed skin can freeze in less than ten minutes. There is also an increased risk of hypothermia for people who stay outside for long periods of time without adequate protection," said the health unit.

"Overexposure can result in severe injury and even death. Ottawa Public Health recommends that you wear several layers of clothing to keep warm and make sure that the outer layer protects you from wind and moisture."

Ottawa Public Health recommends wearing several layers of clothing when you go outside.

Tips to prevent frostbite, according to Ottawa Public Health

  • Get to a warm area before frostbite sets in
  • Keep extra mittens and gloves in the car, house or school bag
  • Wear larger sized mittens over your gloves
  • Wear a hat
  • Wear a neck warmer to protect the chin, lips and cheeks.
  • Wear waterproof winter boots with room for an extra layer of socks.


The extreme cold also poses a risk to pets who go outside. The Ottawa Humane Society offers these tips for keeping your furry friends safe in the cold.

  • Limit the time dogs spend outside.
  • Take dogs for shorter, more frequent walks, and consider a sweater or coat for dogs.
  • After a walk, wipe dogs' paws to remove salt, sand and other harmful substances.
  • Monitor outdoor water bowls to ensure the water hasn’t frozen.
  • Avoid leaving pets in a cold car.
  • Animals may hide in cars to keep warm. Before starting a vehicle, bang on the hood to scare away cats and wildlife.
  • Dogs that live outside are required by law to have an insulated doghouse built from weather-proof material, facing away from prevailing winds. The shelter must be elevated from the ground with a door flap and bedding.