- Environment Canada is warning of frostbite risk due to Montreal's windchill.
- In this cold, skin can freeze in under 30 minutes.
Today, Environment Canada is warning Montrealers that there is a pretty high risk of frostbite if you're going to be outside in the city. Montreal's windchill will reach -30 today (with some weather outlets even saying it feels as cold as -33) and with temperatures that cold, exposed skin can freeze in as little as 10 to 30 minutes. While a White Christmas in Montreal is something we should all dream about, frostbite is something we should all fear.
This is no joke. During my first winter in Montreal, my partner decided to shovel out our car one day with no gloves on. It didn't take long for him to start losing feeling in his fingers as the snow flew around, making his hands wet.
With wet, exposed fingers, it became pretty clear he was getting frostbite and I forced him inside where we both started to get a little freaked out at the texture of his hands.
When skin is exposed to freezing air long enough, the skin and underlying tissue, like fat and muscle, all start to freeze. The skin gets waxy, loses all colour and becomes strangely hard to the touch.
We took turns trying to gradually warm his hands under our armpits and in our groins, but he admitted even three days later that certain fingers were still numb.
Luckily, the fool is fine now and knows better than to try and shovel (or do anything in those extreme temperatures) without gloves on.
But it was a wake-up call for us both that Montreal winters are no joke. Frostbite can be extremely serious and can even result in amputation if not properly treated.
The table above from Environment Canada shows the increased risk for frostbite and other extremely-low temperature-related afflictions.
As you can see, a day like today in Montreal falls into the "HIGH RISK" category due to the fact that exposed skin can freeze in as little time as 10 minutes.
Below is the forecast for the rest of this week and the weekend in Montreal. As you can see, we're going to get some respite from the cold starting tomorrow as temperatures steadily climb back up towards the zero mark.
Environment Canada explains that the westerly wind will be gusting from 20 km/h to 40 km/h today, making the windchill -30 and therefore putting us at a high risk of frostbite this morning.
This afternoon, things will warm up to around -18 C, with the windchill hitting us at about -22. Though expect that to drop again tonight when the risk of frostbite continues as the windchill will come in at around -28 overnight.
There will still be a moderate risk of frostbite tomorrow with the windchill at -21, but that will warm up to -15 by the afternoon.
Of course, we're Montrealers and we're tough, so perhaps you read all of this and have been thinking I'm a wuss the whole time.
I'm okay with that, and maybe I am a wuss.
But if I've saved one person from leaving the house without their mitts, scarf, and hat today, I'm happy.
Please, stay warm and stay dry out there, Montreal. And if you know you've got some extra warm stuff sitting at the back of your closet that you'll never wear, consider donating it.
Someone could be very, very cold without it.