Extreme cold weather freezes Prince Edward Island Thursday

Dave Stewart
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Deane MacArthur has named her 2000 VW "Faith", but Faith let her down Thursday and would not start due to the bone chilling minus 23C temperature with a minus 34C wind chill. She called Shaws Towing and Jeff Haynes soon had her little car running after a boost. 

P.E.I. Humane Society appeals to Islanders to leave pets indoors in extreme cold weather

Tow companies in Charlottetown were scrambling to keep up with calls on Thursday as Islanders dealt with extreme chill and low temperatures.

"Just about everybody has a dead battery,'' said Jason MacCallum, owner of Coopers Towing, when asked about the number of calls they were fielding. "It's like everything else. No one thinks of replacing (the battery) when times are good but when it gets cold they discover that the battery isn't so good.''

The temperature late Thursday afternoon was -24 degrees with a wind chill of -34 degrees. Environment Canada ended the wind chill warning on Thursday afternoon but kept its blowing snow advisory in effect for Friday as winter continues to pound the province.

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MacCallum said they weren't just boosting older cars, there were also plenty of 2010 and 2011 models having problems. Coopers received 25 calls for a boost before most people got to work and was on pace to hit 70 calls for help by the end of the day.

It was the same story at Shaw's Towing.

"We're running approximately three hours behind, it's just crazy,'' said an employee at Shaw's on Thursday morning. "We're going to boost but then they're turning into tows because (vehicles) aren't starting. I've got eight trucks on the go.''

The P.E.I. Humane Society is appealing to pet owners to leave their little friends inside.

"We're actually getting calls today of dogs reported left out in the cold,'' said Donna Marie, animal protection officer. "There's really not any dog that's kept as a companion animal that's suited for this type of cold.''

The humane society was responding to calls on Thursday from people reporting dogs left outside.

Marie said dogs need to go outside for exercise and to use the bathroom but should not be left outside longer than 30 minutes at a time. She said breeds like Huskies can stand the cold a bit longer.

"You have to judge it by the type of dog you have, especially short-haired dogs. Even if they're big dogs they can't withstand the cold.''

And, just as the humane society advises people not to leave dogs in hot cars in the summer, they say the same logic applies about leaving them in a cold car. Even though the animal isn't exposed to the raw wind, the cold is still dangerous. She said the car acts like a refrigerator.

As for cats, put up with the constant pleas to go out and leave them in.

"You'll notice cats lifting their paws because they are really cold. Their ears are susceptible to frostbite. My suggestion would be to not put your cat out at all.''

Even the horses were staying indoors.

Freda Terpstra, who runs Terpstra's Sleigh Rides in North Milton, they don't tend to offer rides when the temperature (not including wind chill) sinks below -20 degrees although people are advised to call ahead.

"It's not too cold for the horses, it's too cold for the people,'' Terpstra said. "When it hits -20 people start cancelling although we did run it (Wednesday) night.''

The sting of the cold freezing business for Terpstra has been tempered by the fact that all that snow in December.

"We started Dec. 18 and I would say we've done more than half of our normal business on a year when we don't (have enough snow for) Christmas and new year's. We didn't start until the second week of January last year and two years ago we didn't start until the first of February.''

All this cold, snowy weather hasn't frustrated Islanders too much. One travel agency in Charlottetown told The Guardian they're not seeing a spike in calls yet.

The cold is keeping icebreakers busy. The Canadian Coast Guard had the Sir William Alexander escort the oil tanker Acadia into port in Charlottetown on Wednesday, before leaving shortly after to resume its normal duties.

Late Thursday afternoon, the Confederation Bridge issued a wind warning advisory for Friday. Winds are projected to gust to 90 kilometres an hour, beginning around 2 p.m. for the remainder of the day, which could result in traffic restrictions.

Take heart, temperatures are forecast to rise above freezing Monday and Tuesday.

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: The Travel Store

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Nova Scotia

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  • Unknown
    January 02, 2014 - 11:49

    " to plus-5 degrees" ??