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Record cold hits area

January 13th, 2004, 10:08 AM
Record cold hits area


Environment Canada issued an extreme wind chill alert in Dufferin County last Thursday and Friday -- with wind chill values reaching as low as -38 Celsius in some areas.

According to Paul Chantree, a local weather advisor for Environment Canada, the cold temperatures may have beat the record low by about one degree Celsius.

He said that although Environment Canada does not keep official records on lows and highs, the last time the Toronto area saw such extreme cold was in 1941.

Several schools in the area closed on Friday -- either because buses were cancelled or because the wind chill index was so low.

Maggie McFadzen, spokesperson for the Upper Grand School Board, said that several buses would not start Friday morning.

"It is almost impossible to get replacement buses," she said, explaining why the board had to cancel all bus service as a result.

And, according to school board policy, schools must close when the Environment Canada wind chill index is -35 Celsius and lower, as was the case for several schools in the area.

With the cold weather, Choices Youth Shelter was at capacity Friday.

Linda Shaver, executive director of the shelter, said she had to turn several people away Thursday night.

"I gave them food and blankets," she said. "We just didn't have room for everyone."

During the day, when the teens are normally locked out of the shelter, Shaver said she kept them inside.

"It's just too cold to send them out. I wouldn't want to be out there."

Just like people, animals should stay inside when temperatures are extremely low.

The local Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals issued warnings late last week about keeping pets indoors.

"Pets shouldn't be left outside for extended periods," said Barbara McCreath, spokesperson for the animal shelter.

She said that it only takes about two minutes out in the cold for skin to freeze -- and that applies to human skin as well as tender animal ears and noses.

She also said although dogs should not be left outdoors, dogs that live outside require a minimum of a doghouse solidly built of weatherproof materials facing away from prevailing winds. It should be elevated and insulated, with a door flap and bedding of straw or wood shavings.

She added that farm animals too should be sheltered from wind and precipitation and given plenty of clean straw bedding.

The local shelter received a high volume of calls from people reporting concerns about animals. McCreath said they had about 14 calls just on Thursday and Friday.

The shelter provides animal owners advice on combating winter hazards faced by their pets and, if necessary, removes animals to relieve distress and provide proper care.

Willful failure to provide adequate shelter could lead to prosecution. To report concerns, call the local branch at 519-942-3140.

There were no power outages in town during the cold spelll, reports Orangeville Hydro.

George Dick, president of the local utility, said supply of power was keeping up with demand.

Although the weather warmed up early this week, Environment Canada is predicting extreme cold again starting on Wednesday.