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Tag: Pincher Creek Weather

Riley McKenzie walks three dogs down Main Street in Pincher Creek

A last winter warm-up ahead of spring

It was downright summerlike in the southwestern corner of Alberta for the last weekend of winter.

In fact, it was one for the history books, with a 119-year-old daily maximum temperature record for Pincher Creek falling by the wayside. Sunday afternoon, the mercury reached 20.1 C, beating the old mark of 17.8 set in 1905. Data for the community has been recorded since 1893.

That same day, the Crowsnest Pass area weather station recorded a high of 16.5 C, up over three degrees from 2007’s 13.4, and Waterton Park’s weather station also broke its 2007 mark of 16.6 C, establishing a new daily high of 17.9.

Brocket’s temperature reached 21.5 C, tying with Fort Macleod, Claresholm and Red Earth, in the northwestern corner of the province, as Alberta’s Sunday hot spot.

March 16 was also a record-setting day as Crowsnest Pass and Waterton beat 2010 highs with readings of 14.7 and 15 C, respectively. Pincher Creek tied its 1972 record of 15.6 C.


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The warmth continued Monday, with all three weather stations reporting record highs. Waterton registered 17.6 C, Pincher Creek 16.7 and Crowsnest Pass 16.3.

Spring officially began Tuesday at 9:06 p.m., and with it comes another weather shift.

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement Monday predicting cooler temperatures and between 15 and 25 centimetres (six to almost 10 inches) of fresh snow for the Pincher Creek area.

A cold front passing through the province is responsible for the heavy snowfall, which was forecast to begin Tuesday night and last about 48 hours. A snowfall warning is likely and, as usual, precipitation will be highest on the eastern slopes of the Rockies.

With daytime highs below zero, the cold weather will continue into next week.


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Black and white tuxedo cat casts a shadow on Groundhog Day

More winter predicted, more winter coming

It was almost unanimous, but Alberta’s Balzac Billy has gone against his Canadian and American counterparts in forecasting six more weeks of winter. 

The man-sized mascot popped out of a large dirt pile at an event just north of Calgary at 8:15 Friday morning wearing sunglasses and carrying a snowbrush.

Billy’s prognostication contradicts real-life groundhogs Wiarton Willie, Punxsutawney Phil, Atlantic Canada’s Shubenacadie Sam and Fred Jr. in Quebec, who all failed to see a shadow after emerging from their burrows — foretelling of an early spring.

Confusing as it might be, Friday’s prediction follows a fifth-straight day, Thursday, where new daily maximum temperatures were set across parts of the province and our region.

The mercury in the Crowsnest Pass reached 12.7 degrees Celsius, beating the old mark of 9.3 achieved three years ago. The warm spell also saw the thermometer shoot up at the Waterton Park weather station to 14.3, surpassing the 10.9-degree record established in 2020. Pincher Creek’s peak at 14.0 was just over three degrees better than 2021’s 10.7.


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That might be where the record-setting temperatures end, at least for highs,  however after Environment Canada issued a Winter Storm Watch just before sunrise Friday morning, for areas just east of the mountains.

“In the far southwest corner of the province, rain is expected to develop Saturday morning with amounts of 10 to 20 mm. The rain will then transition to snow in the afternoon.”

The watch includes a forecast of between 15 and 30 cm of snow on the ground by Sunday afternoon.

“Visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow,” the weather statement added.

It also recommends avoiding travel, where possible, during the heaviest snowfall.

For the record, there was one other dissenting vote for an early spring — Barrington, Nova Scotia’s Lucy the Lobster also saw her shadow Friday morning.

But then, again, who’s ever heard of a crustacean predicting the weather … that’s just silly



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Tim Oczkowski, man dressed in warm camo jacket, ski pants and hat, on a cold day in Pincher Creek

Warm spell sets new daily temperature marks

Although not blistering temperature-wise, it was a record-breaking Sunday in almost every region of Alberta.

According to Environment Canada, as of 6 p.m. Sunday, 55 weather stations had either tied or surpassed previous daily maximum temperature records and several more should follow once all the numbers are crunched.

In Pincher Creek, the mercury reached 11.8 degrees Celsius, beating the old 8.7 mark set in 2005.

Crowsnest Pass, not to be outdone, saw its temperature peak at 10.4, replacing the old 2015 record of 8.7.

The Waterton Park weather station recorded a maximum reading of 12.0, up from 2016’s 11.1.

Pincher Creek also had another distinction on Sunday: the highest recorded Alberta wind gust for the day of 107 km/h, recorded overnight at the airport. Waterton was close behind with 92 km/h.

Monday should add another chapter to the story.

The forecast temperature for both Pincher Creek and the Pass is 14, surely shattering the old Jan. 29 standards of 9.3 (2017) and 7.6 (2012) respectively.

Coincidentally, Jan. 29, 2023, was also the date of the coldest-ever minimum recorded temperature in Pincher Creek, when the thermometer bottomed out at -31.1 C.


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Kelsey Green bundled in a winter coat and scarf on a cold day in Pincher Creek

Cold snap brings with it new temperature records

If you thought it was especially cold when you got up Friday morning, it was, and it was record-setting right across the province.

According to data released by Environment Canada, all but 28 of the 181 Alberta weather stations either tied or recorded new minimum temperature benchmarks overnight Thursday into Friday.

In Pincher Creek, the mercury dropped to -40.8 degrees Celsius overnight, without the wind chill factored in. The old mark was set in 1971 with a reading of -37.2.

The thermometer in Waterton Park also established a new standard of -43.6, an over-five-degree drop from the 1998 record of -38.1.

1998 was also the year of the all-time Jan. 13 yardstick in the Crowsnest Pass. That is until early Friday, when the overnight temperature fell to -39.9, a full two degrees colder than the mark 26 years earlier.

New record lows were also recorded to the east, in Brocket (-38.8), Fort Macleod (-38.3) and Cardston (-39.7).


Aerial view of the Cowley Lions Campground on the Castle River in southwestern Alberta


Saturday remained cold from north to south but saw far fewer temperature records broken across the province. Thirty-six weather stations, but only two in our region, established new marks. 

Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass both set new record lows over 2005 temperatures. The Pass hit -40.3 and Pincher Creek -38.1, compared to -38.4 and -35.8 respectively.

Local schools were closed Friday in response to the extreme weather conditions and Livingstone Range School Division buses did not run on Monday.

A critical Alberta Emergency Alert issued Saturday evening urged people provincewide to immediately limit electrical use to essential needs only. Increased power demand had put the Alberta electrical grid at risk of rotating power outages, which were averted. 

While maybe not with a -50 wind chill, temperatures are forecast to remain well below zero with little or no precipitation after Wednesday, going into the weekend.  The normal daytime high at this time of year is around +2 with overnight lows near -14.



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Sun shines through hoarfrost on tree branches against a blue sky.

Extreme cold warning issued with bitter temperatures ahead

If there was any doubt it would be frigid the next few days, an extreme cold warning issued Wednesday afternoon by Environment Canada should make us stand up and take notice.

According to the alert, the thermometer will drop to below -30 C beginning overnight Wednesday, but feel 10 degrees colder with the prevailing winds.  

“Air temperatures will continue to fall through the end of the week with the coldest values expected by Saturday morning,” said the statement, issued at 3:15 p.m.

“Over the weekend, morning temperatures will reach -40 degrees Celsius in many areas. Wind chills will approach -50.”

The biggest concern, according to the weather agency, is frostbite. At those temperatures, exposed skin can freeze in mere minutes.

“Risks are greater for young children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, people working or exercising outdoors, and those without proper shelter,” the warning says.

Environment Canada is also appealing to pet owners

during the extreme cold snap, saying, “If it’s too cold for you to stay outside, it’s too cold for your pet to stay outside.”

The extreme cold warning is in effect for all of Alberta.

A slight improvement in the temperature is expected for the southwest early next week, with the mercury forecast to reach into the minus teens.


Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.



Black lab in looks back to the camera on a cold, snowy day.

Domestic pets, livestock and the bitter cold

With the first real cold snap of the season, many of us are preparing ourselves for the pending frigid temperatures. But what about our pets and livestock?

With temperatures forecast to bottom out at -36 C Thursday night and -32 Friday, without potential winds factored in, extended exposure could be downright dangerous.

At that threshold, Dr. Amanda Elliott of Country Vets in Pincher Creek believes pets should really be indoors.

“They can go outside to do their business but then, for sure, back in the house,” she recommends.

“There are some livestock guardian dogs that will be a little more acclimatized to that type of weather with their thick fur coats, but they still require shelter. They still need a really warm bed and extremely important: a non-frozen water source.”


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Like their owners, pets are prone to frostbite on their extremities, especially if they spend the majority of their time indoors and haven’t built up a resistance to the cold outdoors.

“The first thing that will usually freeze are the ear tips, tail tips and their paws,” Dr. Elliott points out. Pet owners should watch for signs of ears drooping or flopping over.

While on a human, signs might show after a few hours, it might take a couple of days on an animal. Cold limbs are also a tell-tale sign, she adds. A pale-coloured paw pad is another good indicator.

As for horses and livestock, Dr. Elliott suggests much of the same — protection from wind and bitterly cold wind chills, but also an increase in their food intake. At temperatures below -8, more energy is required for warmth, which can be made readily available with an ample supply of hay.

She also notes the importance of providing shelter, windbreaks and bedding animals down to protect them from the frozen ground. A supply of fresh, unfrozen water is also needed.



For dogs and cats, the Alberta SPCA has a list of cold-weather recommendations to consider, including two points that might not always be top of mind.

First, wash the pads of their paws. Pets that go outside can pick up rock salt, ice and chemicals on their pads. After a walk, wipe your pet’s paws with a washcloth. This will keep its pads from getting chapped and will prevent inflammation of the digestive tract that may result from licking the salt.

Second, practise caution before starting your car. Cats and small wildlife searching for warmth may curl up inside a vehicle’s engine compartment. Before you turn your engine on, consider honking the horn or knocking on the hood to scare them away.

More tips can be found here.


Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.


Brenda and Casey Shenton, dressed in Calgary Flames jerseys and bundled for a cold-weather winter walk.

First cold snap of the season forecast to begin by weekend

Although we’ve seen the odd indication of winter since October, it might really feel like it by as early as this weekend.

In its latest seven-day weather outlook, Environment Canada is forecasting a considerable drop in temperature come Sunday with a daytime high of only -12 C. Factor in even a slight 15 kilometre-an-hour breeze and the mercury could easily be in the upper -20s before Sunday night.

“We certainly are seeing a change in the pattern coming up here,” explains meteorologist Justin Shelley with the Alberta office of Environment Canada.

“Pincher Creek, as well as the majority of the Prairies and Western Canada have been enjoying well above normal temperatures so far this winter and we are going to see a flip in that regard by next week.”

The short-range forecast for the entire southwest region calls for snow to begin Saturday night, carrying on into Sunday, but it’s the dropping temperatures that are a much bigger concern, with the possibility of long-range cold snap beginning mid next week.



“There’s still some discrepancy in just how much colder it’s going to get,” Shelley says. “Some models are showing that we’re just going to get back to near normals … so normal daytime highs for this time of year of -2 and overnight lows of -12. We’ve certainly been well above that for a number of weeks.

“With the snow Saturday into Sunday, we’re going to see the first bit of cold air descend down into southwest Alberta, but we’re not expecting to see any significant amounts, perhaps two to five centimetres. Maybe a little more for the Waterton Lakes.”

The weekend, though, could be a precursor to an extended cold snap and more wintry weather.

“By early to mid next week, we’re looking at another system that might be more significant and will likely allow for that colder air mass to move further south over the Prairies,” Shelley says.

Long-term projections range anywhere from -8 to -15 during the day, without the wind factored in, and the potential for little or no movement in temperatures until after mid month.

Shelley says the cold air is currently over top of the Yukon and Northwest Territories, and could blanket a large part of Western Canada when it settles in place.



White sheet lighting in a purplish night sky over Pincher Creek Rexall

No blue moon but lotsa lightning for Pincher Creek

If you thought the weather in and around Pincher Creek was a little crazy Wednesday night, you’d be right.

A rather intense thunderstorm blanketed the region for the better part of eight hours during the evening and overnight hours, bringing with it wind, heavy rain at times, and both sheet and fork lightning.

“We had a low pressure that settled itself over the southern Prairies,” explains Justin Shelley, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

“It’s currently centred (10 a.m. Thursday) over central Saskatchewan. Last night, of course, during the storms it was a little farther west, where we had a line of thunderstorms that extended from the southern half of our province right into Montana.”

Shelley said the system was slow moving and created a train-like effect where the storms seemed to back into each other, translating into the heavy pockets of wind and rain that we saw.

Combined with rain earlier in the day, the Pincher Creek airport weather station received 23.3 millimetres in precipitation from midnight to midnight Wednesday, while Brocket, to the northeast, collected 47.2 millimetres in its rain gauge.

But is there more wet weather on the way? Maybe, toward the end of the long weekend, Shelley predicts.

“It does look like we might see another system move through the area on Sunday or Monday, but probably not what happened last night,” he adds.

The seven-day forecast from Environment Canada is for generally dry conditions, with sunshine Friday through Sunday and highs in the mid to upper 20s.

A 60 per cent chance of showers follows on Monday.

Skies are expected to clear for the first day of school Tuesday, with a more manageable daytime high of 17.