"There was talk that this was the year that winter was cancelled," Environment Canada climatologist David Phillips said.
Much of the west has been catapulted into winter with little warning. "There's been no moderation, no easing into the cold," Phillips said. "Last month they were in T-shirts on the golf course, now they're shivering in their boots."
People in Vancouver and Victoria were feeling the brunt of the unseasonable weather, Phillips said Monday. "It's one thing to get a dump of snow in Toronto or Montreal, but in Victoria, they're just not equipped for it." He added that the first snowfall is difficult no matter where you live. "You have to learn how to cope."
The 27 centimetres of snow that fell on Victoria over the weekend won't be melt quickly, Phillips said. "They might even have a white Christmas in the west this year," he added.
People in the west should hunker down for a long cold spell as the brutal temperatures look like they are sticking around, Phillips warned.
Extreme wind chill warnings are in effect across the southern Prairies. In Calgary it was -33 C Monday afternoon, but with the windchill it felt like -47 C; Regina was at -45 C for the third day in a row and Winnipeg was reporting temperatures as low as -41 C. A cold air mass over Alberta broke records on Sunday night, reported Environment Canada. Banff's low of -41.8 C broke the previous record, -35 C, set in 1924.
The weather has been much balmier east of the jet stream, which goes up through the middle of Ontario from the U.S., dividing the country into two weather systems.
Toronto saw highs of 11 C Monday morning but by mid-afternoon the temperature had plummeted. Montreal was warmer than usual at 7 C Monday afternoon.
-- Canwest News Service