Cold complications lead to breaks, closures, and new records

CALGARY –

The continued block of cold air sitting over the province has forced some businesses to close, while leading to spikes in calls for city services including the Calgary Fire Department.

As of Tuesday afternoon the city was working on restoring three water main breaks around the city, affecting a few hundred people.

“Have patience, we’re doing our best,” said Lee Dupras with Calgary Water Services. “There are more issues with equipment working in these cold temperatures.”

He said crews must continually rotate to warm up. They are helped a little this year by the warm autumn that has left the frost line shallower than normal, making it easier to reach the broken pipes.

Dupras said there has been only a slight increase in breaks in winter.

FIRE DEPARTMENT BUSY

Calgary Fire department said they have responded to more than 900 calls over the past four days, many cold related.

The department is cautioning people to take care to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and to take extra care if forced to use an alternative heating source after a furnace malfunction.

The Alberta Energy Services Operator reports the province set a new record for energy usage Monday night – 11,939 megawatts or 200 mega watts higher than the previous record.

“That’s like adding a city the size of Medicine Hat or Red Deer to the provincial power system,” said AESO spokesperson Mike Deising.

“It’s cold all the way down to the US Border and when we see situations like that that’s generally when we see increased demand on the power system.”

There’s still some capacity to spare, but AESO is asking people to limit their use between four and  eight p.m. – put off doing the laundry,and  turn out extra lights.

The energy operator also warns that running too close to capacity can lead to problems. The cold can cause some supplemental power sources to fail.

The Calgary Humane Society reports it has responded to 52 calls over the past month for animals being left out without shelter. Owners are required to keep pets warm – the maximum penalty can include a $20,000 fine and a life time ban on owning animals.

WINSPORT CLOSED

The bitter cold has also forced Winsport to close until temperatures improve.

“It’s a fine balance we want to make sure we’re here for our pass holders,” Dale Oviatt of Winsport said. “For us, it just gets to that certain temperature where it’s just too bone chilling and to keep our staff outside in that cold is a little too difficult.”

The current forecast suggests temperatures will ease considerably by Sunday, with daytime highs getting above freezing next week.

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