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Extreme wind chills prompt warnings through southern Manitoba

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Residents of southern Manitoba are certainly no stranger to cold, windy weather, but hearing the weather reports this morning likely had many of them putting 'just stay inside' on their New Years resolution list.

Temperatures plunged to near -40 degrees Celsius across most of southern Manitoba overnight. With that kind of extreme cold, anyone venturing outside runs the risk of suffering frostbite on exposed skin in as little as five minutes, but bitter Arctic winds blowing through made conditions even worse. Wind chills closer to -50 were recorded across the region, with the city of Brandon actually getting down to a wind chill of -52 early this morning, pushing the risk of frostbite and hypothermia even higher. According to Environment Canada, any wind chills of -48 or lower can freeze exposed skin in as little as two minutes.

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Wind chill warnings are in effect for a wide swath of the country, from southern and northern Manitoba, through northern Ontario and central and northern Quebec. Conditions are expected to improve some this afternoon, however with temperatures plunging down into the -30s again tonight, extreme wind chill conditions could easily return.

Southern Manitoba may be seeing some of the worst from this Arctic blast, but they're not the only ones saying goodbye to 2013 on a cold note. Frigid conditions have settled down over much of the country, from Alberta all the way to to the Maritimes, with bitter wind chills, near -40, affecting regions from Saskatchewan through to central and northern Quebec. The only part of the country that's seeing a mild end of the year is southern British Columbia, with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark in the interior, and the B.C. south coast enjoying a fairly warm, if rainy, day.

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These chilly conditions should persist tonight, making it cold night for ringing in the New Year. Those venturing out for the festivities should bundle up, and anyone choosing to celebrate with a few drinks should remember that although alcohol might make you feel warmer, it doesn't actually make you warmer. In fact, because alcohol causes the blood vessels in your skin to dilate, more of your core heat is lost, making it easier to suffer from hypothermia. So have fun, but be safe!

(Photo courtesy: The Canadian Press)

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