Cold Records Shattered Across Canada, Driving Energy Usage To All-Time Highs; Extreme Freeze Sweeps U.S.; Blizzards Hit Hawaii; + Wintry Weather Traps 300 Oil Workers On North Sea Rig

Cold Records Shattered Across Canada…

As Western Canada remained mired in a December deep freeze, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) revealed this week’s cold snap has already broken over 100 cold records.

Between the mornings of Monday and Tuesday, Alberta felled 30 low temperature records alone; seven of which usurped benchmarks from 1921, with the standout being the -48.2C logged at Hendrickson Creek which smashed the locale’s previous record (by almost 9C!), and also becomes the province’s lowest December reading since 1996 (solar minimum of cycle 21).

The cold was just as fierce in British Columbia, where a total of 16 temperature records were broken on Monday alone.

ECCC data shows four areas broke records dating back to 1951–Tatlayoko Lake, Smithers, Dease Lake and Bella Coola; with -46.8C hitting Puntzi Mountain, a reading that busted the area’s previous record (by more that 6C), and, similarly to Alberta, becomes the province’s lowest December reading since 1996 (solar min of cycle 21).

The snowfall has also been record-setting, with accumulations of well-over 20cm hitting parts of B.C. Tuesday.

With a 10am snow total of 24cm, Tuesday was Vancouver’s snowiest December day in 14 years, since Christmas Eve, 2008 (solar minimum of cycle 23). It was also the area’s snowiest Dec 20 ever in books dating back to 1938.

Nearby Vancouver Island is also anomalously snowy:

Vancouver’s high of -6.2C on Monday was also the city’s coldest Dec 19 since records began in 1937 (and by almost 2C!).

Moreover, Canada’s extreme freeze hasn’t just been confined to B.C. and Alberta: -52C was suffered in the Yukon, the province’s lowest December temp since 1995 (solar min of cycle 21), with -51.6C logged in the Northwest Territories.

Thierry Goose on Twitter has done a good job of compiling the extreme lows:

…Driving Energy Usage To All-Time Highs

The historic Arctic Outbreak is driving heating demand up across Canada.

A ‘grid alert’ from the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) was issued Tuesday evening, with the operator warning it was preparing to use emergency energy reserves to meet demand and maintain the system.

The AESO asked customers to reduce electricity usage to help mitigate the possibility of “more serious emergency measures” being needed to maintain the grid, steps which could include rotating power outages amid “extreme cold temperatures and high energy demand”.

Data showed energy consumption hit 12,187 megawatts during the hour between 5 and 6 PM Monday evening — a new peak hourly load record, according to Leif Sollid with the operator.

“This surpasses the previous record set at 11,939 megawatts on Jan. 3, 2022,” said Sollid. “It’s no surprise that demand is really, really high. Furnaces are working much harder.”

Likewise in British Columbia, BC Hydro set a new record for peak hourly electricity demand on Dec 19. Consumption reached over 10,800 megawatts Monday evening — the highest ever recorded, besting the 10,762 megawatts from Dec 27, 2021.

“With more sub-zero temperatures in the coming days, BC Hydro expects demand will remain high and there is the potential to see this latest record fall before the cold snap ends,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Susie Rieder.

Extreme Freeze Sweeps U.S.

Extreme cold is plunging south of the border, too, into the United States.

Poplar, Montana and Bottieau, North Dakota both registered -35F (-37C).

The Lower 48 is bracing for much more where that came from, with many states, regions and cities issuing emergency weather warnings as a truly dangerous, potentially deadly/likely historic, blast of polar cold descends for the Holiday season.

“It’s not conditions that our bodies were made to be exposed to over a long period of time,” said hydrologist Andy Bryant after seeing the warnings issued by the NWS Portland. “People can die if they’re exposed too long to those really cold temperatures.”

GFS 2m Temperature Anomalies (C) Dec 20 – Dec 25 [].

And despite The Narrative, cold continues to kill far more than heat:

GFS Total Snowfall (inches) Dec 20 – Jan 6 [].

Alaska isn’t escaping the deep freeze, either, with residents of Chicken –for example– suffering through -62F (-52C).

Blizzards Hit Hawaii

Exceptional cold and snow is striking Hawaii, too.

Barely a week after Mauna Loa stopped erupting, Winter Storm Warnings were issued for Hawaii’s Big Island. 

The NWS issued an alert for blizzards on Monday, for both Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, and conditions didn’t disappoint:

A little snow atop these mountains isn’t particularly rare, but blizzards are–or rather were: this is now the fourth consecutive year of heavy, blowing snow clipping the Hawaiian summits. Below was last December:

As hinted at above, Mauna Loa began erupting on Nov 27 and stopped on Dec 13.

It was the first time it has actively erupted since 1984 (solar minimum of cycle 20) — and is a sign of the times…

Volcanic eruptions are one of the key climatic forcings driving Earth into its next bout of global cooling. They have been shown to increase in both number and explosivity during times of prolonged solar decline, which is thought to be due to an influx of cosmic rays (CRs) penetrating/exciting silica-rich magma. During solar mins the Sun’s magnetic field weakens and the outward pressure of the solar wind decreases, which allows more CRs to enter the inner solar system, including our planet’s atmosphere.

For more:

Wintry Weather Traps 300 Oil Workers On North Sea Rig

Hundreds of offshore workers could spend Christmas in the North Sea after Arctic conditions cancelled helicopter flights.

About 300 staff, many of whom are Scottish, have been unable to leave platforms off Denmark as scheduled, reports the BBC.

French firm TotalEnergies said a phenomenon called “triggered lightning” was responsible for the disruption.

“Helicopter transports during wintertime around the North Sea are always challenging due to ice, fog, wind speeds and other factors,” said a company spokeswoman, but “triggered lightning” has been causing far more issues than usual this season.

Positively charged cumulonimbus clouds need to be present for the phenomenon to occur, and these are formed by cold air from the Arctic descending south during winter months.

The negatively-charged helicopter acts as a conductor for the lightning, aiding its passage to the earth.

Typically, the bolt enters one of the main rotor blades and exits at the tail, but on its way risks knocking out instrument panels, heating up components and/or leaving burn marks. It may also magnetize navigational equipment.

Dr Helen Wells, head of the civil aviation research and development group at the Met Office, said: “In a typical winter season there are about 10 cold air outbreaks in the North Sea operating area, each lasting around three days.”

Since November, however, the cold has been truly fierce, and the usually rare phenomenon has been commonplace, leading to the cancellation of 52 flights, which compares to the zero cancellations caused by ‘triggered lightning’ during the same period last year.

“Unfortunately, the phenomenon cannot be eliminated with de-icing systems, as has been mentioned in the media,” continued the TotalEnergies’ spokeswoman, who went on to insist that the company is doing its upmost to ensure that all stranded workers are returned home for Christmas.