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Cariboo residents wake up to -48C windchill

Warming centre open in Williams Lake, as bitter cold expected to last until the weekend

A blast of extreme cold has moved into the Cariboo Chilcotin, with a wind chill of -48C Thursday morning (Jan. 11) in Williams Lake.

Environment Canada warns that this period of very cold wind chills is expected to last until Saturday morning when temperatures begin to moderate.

In School District 27 (SD27) buses have run every day so far this week, while Quesnel school buses were cancelled earlier in the week due to unsafe road conditions as a result of heavy snow.

SD27 trustees revamped the district’s transportation policy three years ago, including its cold weather procedures, removing the temperature of -32C at which buses stop running.

Superintendent Chris van der Mark said the changes focused on providing service wherever reasonably possible. “Transportation may still cancel specific, or entire runs in the event of extreme weather,” van der Mark told the Tribune this week. “As per the AP, parents must exercise their discretion with regard to sending their child to school. The transportation department will continue to work hard to ensure the fleet delivers safe, reliable service to the best of their abilities.”

DriveBC is not reporting any issues with local roads or highways in the Cariboo Chilcoton Thursday.

In its extreme cold warning, Environment Canada notes these extreme temperatures puts everyone at risk, particularly young children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, people working or exercising outdoors, and those without proper shelter.

Residents are reminded to watch for cold related symptoms;

Shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle pain and weakness, numbness and colour change in fingers and toes,

Cover up. Frostbite can develop within minutes on exposed skin, especially with wind chill,

Check on older family, friends and neighbours and,

Keep emergency supplies in your vehicle such as extra blankets and jumper cables.

In Williams Lake, the city is opening a warning centre at Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex, which will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning Jan. 11 where a space will be available for respite.

For the unhoused there is temporary overnight shelter available at the Hamilton and Cariboo Friendship Centre.

Black Press Media spoke with meteorologist Armel Castellan from Environment Canada about the extreme cold temperatures and snowfall warnings expected in weather alerts issued for Thursday, Jan. 11 across most areas of the province.

READ ALSO: Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island poised to join rest of B.C. in bitter cold

Angie Mindus

About the Author: Angie Mindus

A desire to travel led me to a full-time photographer position at the Williams Lake Tribune in B.C.’s interior.
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