There are still 19 days until winter officially begins in British Columbia, but you wouldn't know it from glancing at the forecast.
With temperatures approaching -20 C with the wind chill heading into the weekend, Environment Canada issued an arctic outflow warning for Whistler and the Fraser Valley early Friday morning, Dec. 2. Though that warning officially ended Friday afternoon, the colder-than-usual temperatures are sticking around for the time being.
The alert warned locals and visitors about the hazards of frostbite and hypothermia accompanying the bone chillingly-cold conditions, encouraging anyone spending time outdoors to minimize exposed skin with hats, scarves and mittens or gloves. Pets and other outdoor animals should also be provided with access to shelter.
"Frostbite and hypothermia can occur within minutes if adequate precautions are not taken when outdoors," Environment Canada explained.
In response to the cold weather, Whistler Community Services Society, in partnership with the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), is activating an Emergency Overnight Shelter at the Whistler Public Library for the third night in a row, available from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. to anyone without a warm place to sleep. The library is located at 4329 Main St.
In accordance with the RMOW's new Extreme Cold Weather Shelter Plan, an emergency overnight shelter will be activated at the library whenever Environment Canada issues a cold weather warning for the resort this winter, or more specifically when temperatures reach at least -20 C with the wind chill for a minimum of six hours.
Forcasters are calling for another cold night in Whistler Friday, with a low of -12 C that will feel more like -20 C with the wind chill. Strong winds will be blowing from the northeast at about 20 kilometres per hour with gusts of up to 40 km/h. There is a 40-per-cent chance of flurries Friday evening and overnight.
Unfortunately for skiers heading up Whistler or Blackcomb Mountains Saturday, those flurries aren't likely to materialize into a powder day. Conditions will clear up slightly Saturday morning with mainly sunny skies, though the high of -7 C will still warrant an extra layer. Wind chill values will feel more like -18 C in the morning and -12 C in the afternoon.
Temperatures will start to rise closer to seasonal norms on Sunday, when skies will clear and the high is predicted to reach -5 C.
Typically, temperatures in Whistler on Dec. 2 hit a high of 0.6 C, on average, and a low of -4.7 C. Whistler's coldest Dec. 2 on record occurred in 1984, when the mercury plummeted to -13.9 C.