Extreme cold and biting wind has gripped Western Canada and it won't shake loose until at least Saturday.

Environment Canada cold and Arctic outflow warnings have covered the Canadian map red, from Haida Gwaii to near Hudson Bay.

Forecasters warn the gusting winds can make temperatures feel like -40 or even -55 in some parts.

That means frostbite can develop within minutes on exposed skin, especially with wind chill.

Those who do venture outside are being told to watch for symptoms including shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle pain and weakness, numbness, or fingers and toes changing colour.

While extreme cold puts everyone at risk, Environment Canada says the risks are greater for young children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, people working or exercising outdoors, and those without proper shelter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2024

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