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Mars and the North Pole are warmer than Winnipeg: A guide to how damned cold it is

Mars and the North Pole are warmer than Winnipeg: A guide to how damned cold it is
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Canada is really cold right now. It’s so cold that statues of John A. Macdonald are taking themselves down. It’s so cold that Pamela Anderson is wearing sealskin. It’s so cold that people are warming themselves around Andrew Scheer’s personality.

But don’t take our word for it. Below, a series of shocking statistics to bolster your indignance that somebody thought it was a good idea to put a country here.

It’s colder in Winnipeg than it has ever been in Scotland (ever)

Scotland is famous for its harsh conditions. How else to explain a culture built around fried food and wool? Regardless, the coldest ever temperature recorded in Scotland is only -27.2 C — and even then it was a rare occurrence that occurred on the country’s northernmost tip. In Winnipeg on Boxing Day, meanwhile, it approached -30 C. This is food for thought when considering the shock of Scottish immigrants who came to settle the prairies. Even a hearty family from the Scottish highlands would have only managed to prop up a rudimentary cabin before they were being hammered by temperatures unknown to their entire family tree.

If your car won’t start in Edmonton, it will take 16 hours for a tow truck to arrive

Despite snow being the default road condition in Alberta, the province’s urbanites never quite seem to grasp the rigours of winter driving. This is best exemplified by the current for roadside assistance. On Wednesday afternoon, there was a 17-hour wait for a full tow, a 16-hour wait for a battery boost and a four hour wait for those who might have locked their keys in the car with the engine running. In the corn-fed, chain-carrying Alberta hinterlands, meanwhile, the waits are no longer than two hours.

“I don’t need snow tires. It’s front wheel drive!” Ian Kucerak/Edmonton Sun/QMI Agency

Approximately 0.00003 per cent of Canada isn’t freezing right now

Canada has more land than almost anyone on earth: 10 million square kilometres of it. Right now, all of that land is frozen save for a few small patches of southwestern B.C. The coastal parts of Vancouver Island experienced a brief thaw on Wednesday, as did parts of Vancouver — but that’s about it. Even in Metro Vancouver, one couldn’t ride the SkyTrain more than a few stops out of downtown until temperatures were once again below zero.

A swath of Canada the size of Europe was under an extreme cold warning

On Boxing Day, extreme cold warnings were issued for a section of Canada stretching from the Alberta/B.C. border all the way to the St. Lawrence River. That’s a swath of Canada roughly 3,500 km wide. For context, the distance between New York and Mexico City is only 3,400 kilometres. This means that if an exasperated Winnipegger had gotten into their car and tried to drive to a part of Canada that wasn’t under an extreme cold warning, it would take them a minimum of 10 hours.

Environment Canada issues multiple extreme cold warnings as frigid weather envelopes many parts of the country. Check link for regional alerts: https://t.co/4Sx43aYRgz pic.twitter.com/HXD02pAr8J

Canada’s warmest city is still colder than the record lows of more than 30 countries

Those smug, pension-collecting Victorians, as usual, have the distinction of living in the warmest urban centre in all of Canada. But even the Garden City had a white Christmas, and its relatively mild winter would still be considered devastating by much of the world. As of press time, Victoria’s balmy 3 C was colder than the historical record low of more than 30 countries, including Taiwan, Indonesia, Cuba, the Philippines, Jamaica and Singapore.

Saskatoon is colder than both the north and south poles

Since the North Pole is in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, it’s a little tricky to get an accurate temperature reading. But the Norwegian Meteorological Institute tries their best, and their estimate for this week was that the top of the world ; six degrees warmer than Saskatoon’s Wednesday low of -29 C. Meanwhile, the South Pole — which is consistently the colder of the two poles — is -23 C .

The South Pole, one of several remote polar research stations that are warmer than much of Canada right now. Google Earth

Alberta’s warmest place was almost as cold as Mars

As Alberta was plunged into extreme cold warnings on Boxing Day, it was ironically the mountainous parts of the province that were its warmest. Banff and Jasper both escaped the “extreme cold” label by recording lows of only -19 C. This means that, for a few minutes, all of Alberta was about as cold as Mars’ Gale Crater, the home of the Curiosity rover. Mars is subject to pretty violent temperatures shifts, and Curiosity regularly encounters temperatures below -80 C. But this week, the highest temperature experienced by the rover were -23 C. A Calgary Boxing Day shopper, therefore, might have found themselves getting into a car that was literally colder than a Martian spacecraft. 

Curiosity, which may or may not be enduring temperatures warmer than your backyard. NASA

Toronto is colder than CFS Alert, the world’s northernmost permanently inhabited place

We still don’t precisely know what the Canadian Armed Forces do all day at CFS Alert, but it’s presumably quite important to merit an Arctic base that is accessible only by 9,000 km round-trip flights on a Hercules. The station’s motto is even “ beyond the Inuit land ,” commemorating the fact that it is too north even for Canada’s most cold-resistant people. But this week, being stationed in the country’s most remote settlement was slightly warmer than being stationed in its most populous. On Wednesday afternoon, CFS Alert was only -7 C , compared to -10 C in Toronto. Keep in mind that, unlike Toronto, the personnel at CFS Alert are under 24-hour darkness. The sun won’t rise there again until late February.

CFS Alert, pictured in less-cold times. File

Vancouver is as cold as Moscow

Vancouver may be Canada’s Mediterranean right now, but on Wednesday afternoon its two degrees Celsius was exactly the same temperature as Vladimir Putin’s back garden. Moscow is famous for its bleak, army-swallowing, existence-questioning winters. But apparently, it’s just as bracing to take a holiday stroll on Granville Island as in Red Square.

Most of the world’s animals would die if left in Montreal

There are approximately 8.7 million animal species on earth. Most of those animals live in the hot, humid parts of the world, such as the Amazon rainforest. Thus, if we could somehow load up two of every animal on a modern Noah’s Ark and unload them in Montreal’s Parc Jean-Drapeau, it’s reasonable to assume that the vast majority of them would freeze to death within hours. It would, quite simply, be the world’s most devastating mass-extinction since the disappearance of the dinosaurs. The frozen mounds of corpses would technically include humans, of course, who are biologically a tropical species. Head outside in Montreal without your coat at -20 C and you’ll be lucky to last a few hours.

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