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Edmontonians to get a break from frigid weather in coming week

According to an Environment Canada meteorologist, Edmonton will get temperature highs between zero and -2 C in the next week.

After frigidly low temperatures, Edmontonians can look forward to temperatures as high as zero and - 2 C for the coming week.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

After frigidly low temperatures, Edmontonians can look forward to temperatures as high as zero and - 2 C for the coming week.

Last week’s frosty weather was a bit much even by ‘winter city’ standards, but Edmontonians can look forward to milder temperatures in the coming week.

Alysa Pederson, senior meteorologist for Environment Canada, said the temperatures later this week will hover between zero and -2 C.

She said the drastic cold weather was the result of a phenomenon recently termed the ‘polar vortex’.

“In the winter time, because the earth is tilted away from the sun ... and it’s dark above what is 60 degrees north ... it allows the air up there to cool to ridiculously low temperatures. That’s your polar vortex,” Pederson said.

She said that “mass of very cold air” hovers near the arctic and then because of the jetstream, which consists of high pressure winds above the surface of the earth that move across from west to east, it is pulled south.

Around Christmas Day, the polar vortex formed and moved into Manitoba, which caused high pressures to move from Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories and resulted in winds bringing cold air to Alberta.

She said the cold air has now been moving on east, causing a ridge, which is air that separates warm air from the cold, to move to the north of Edmonton for the next few days.

“We are going to be getting the warmer air from the southwestern US and Pacific ocean,” she said.

“At least for the next week or so, we should be relatively above what our normal temperatures are. So Edmonton, our average normal high is -7 C right now, and we are looking at, later this week, it will be hitting zero and -2 C.”

This year's winter was more windy in Edmonton as well, which Pederson explained was because of being “caught between two systems”.

“There is high pressure to our east and then towards B.C. there is low pressure, so what you are getting is a gradient between the two,” she said.

The wind is a result of the two systems being close to each other, which is what happened in Edmonton.

She said normally Edmonton is in the centre of the high pressure which results in little wind.

Pederson said geography plays a role in which areas get cold air.

“All three prairie provinces are relatively flat compared to terrain elsewhere across the country so that cold air can actually move relatively smoothly throughout the prairies,” she said.

“What you sometimes get is it will sometimes hit the mountains in Western Alberta and gets stuck so B.C, is kind of sheltered from the arctic air.”

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