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Wind chill warnings could see changes under new program

Russell Stinton clears the snow away from a walkway around his home. Stinton said he's noticed a difference in winter over the last decade.

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Russell Stinton clears the snow away from a walkway around his home. Stinton said he's noticed a difference in winter over the last decade. (CHARLES TWEED / BRANDON SUN)

It has been a season of substantial temperature swings across the Prairies as Mother Nature plays yo-yo with the temperature gauge.

In a span of five days, temperatures fluctuated more than 40 degrees in Brandon.

"It’s winter," said Russell Stinton who was bundled up, clearing snow from the walkway in front of his house on Sunday.

The 84-year-old said he’s noticed a change in Old Man Winter over the last decade.

"It used to be that winter came, the cold came with it and once it was here, it was here to stay," he said.

Now there seems to be more volatility in the weather, according to Stinton.

On Dec. 23, the temperature at the Brandon Municipal Airport dipped to a low of -38.2 C, according to data from The Weather Network. It was the coldest day in a six-day stretch that routinely saw lows around -30 C.

Just five days later on Friday, the mercury climbed all the way to 2.1 C, a swing of 40.3 degrees.

With the wind chill factored in the swing is more extreme.

However, the federal government is devising a new way to warn Canadians regarding frosty temperatures.

At the moment, Environment Canada issues warnings when cold temperatures combined with high winds breach health-threatening standards.

Under a new program, warnings would be issued when temperatures plunge below the standards regardless of the wind.

The index will continue to be expressed in temperature-like units. A format that the weather office said is preferred by most Canadians and "is an accurate, easy to understand tool."

Each year, more than 80 people die from overexposure to the cold, with many others suffering injuries from frostbite and hypothermia, according to Environment Canada’s website.

The warmer weather also brought with it a smattering of snow that left many motorists frustrated with the conditions of side streets in the city.

Several vehicles, mainly smaller cars, got stuck on streets that were covered in snow with large ruts and a healthy ice bed below.

One compact car on 26th Street had a wheel come completely off.

"I don’t have much to complain about where I am because I’m on a bus route," Stinton said. "The side streets aren’t very good though."

» ctweed@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 30, 2013

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It has been a season of substantial temperature swings across the Prairies as Mother Nature plays yo-yo with the temperature gauge.

In a span of five days, temperatures fluctuated more than 40 degrees in Brandon.

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It has been a season of substantial temperature swings across the Prairies as Mother Nature plays yo-yo with the temperature gauge.

In a span of five days, temperatures fluctuated more than 40 degrees in Brandon.

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