Extreme cold weather in Ottawa leaves Winterlude outdoor activities cancelled

It has been too warm for the Rideau Canal to open to skaters, but now it is too freezing for another traditional winter activity in Ottawa — the Winterlude festival’s ice-carving competition.

The city’s annual winter festival is off to a cold start and has decided to cancel numerous outdoor events.

The festival’s website says that due to extreme cold, all activities that were planned to be held outside today are being nixed to protect staff, volunteers and visitors.

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“Given the extreme weather conditions and to ensure the security of staff, volunteers and visitors, all outdoor Winterlude activities held today have been cancelled,” the festival said.

An extreme cold warning is in effect for all of eastern Ontario and western Quebec, with temperatures in Ottawa expected to create a -41 C wind chill this evening.

Ottawa Public Health issued a frostbite warning on Thursday that will continue until further notice, urging residents to dress appropriately if they are outdoors.

“If you’re going to be outside, please dress warmly and be mindful of the signs of frostbite,” it said on social media.

Winterlude historically draws in tourists for another reason — the Rideau Canal Skateway, dubbed the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink.

But the canal has broken the record for its latest opening date due to earlier mild weather, and while crews are working to create safe ice for skating, there is no word on when it may open.

The launch of the National Ice Carving Championship is being postponed until Saturday.

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