-51º??? No wonder so many Edmontonians have been buying in PV

This story was featured on Canadian TV this past week.

Granted, there are many Edmontonians who prefer the climate when the mercury plunges. There are also those who are resigned to the fact we live in a winter city, and get annoyed by the perennial shock that accompanies the first deep freeze of the season. But then there are always others who cope with the first blast of the white stuff another way: They choose denial and escape to a warm getaway.

But with a record-breaking dip in temperatures on Saturday night and throughout Sunday, CTV decided to catch up with Edmontonians returning from a sojourn to Puerto Vallarta to see how they’d cope with a blast of cool reality.

Call it a social experiment of a very Albertan stripe if you will. Within Edmonton, overnight temperatures dipped to -36 C, breaking the 1929 record set at -32.8 C. Sunday is also the coldest December 13th in our city’s history: Environment Canada says as of 5 a.m. the temperature at the Edmonton International airport was -46 C, or -59 C with wind chill. The new figure shatters last year’s record, set at -36 C. Outside the gate, Marie Scott was pre-empting shock for her daughter, son-in-law and grandson by getting winter apparel ready.

It’s unlikely the travelers returning from sunny Mexico knew they were returning to the second coldest place on earth, behind only Zhilinda, Siberia, which boasts -48 C weather. “I think they’re going to want to turn around and go back – I would,” she said with a hearty laugh. “I’m just trying to warm their jackets because they’re going to freeze just putting them on.” As the diligent grandmother prepares, it happens. The sliding doors open, reuniting the bronzed travelers to their bundled-up loved ones.

First out of the gate is Bob McDonald. The well-tanned man wearing a cotton t-shirt greets our camera with a docile smile as he speaks of two-and-a-half weeks of +35 C weather. At the time it was -51 C outside – a difference of 86 degrees. We break the news and his eyes bug out. “I am in shock,” he said simply.

Others enter the concourse, most dressed like McDonald. One of the stragglers is Christopher Toutant, wearing not only a t-shirt, but also Bermurda shorts. It appears his return to a cold snap didn’t occur to him until the pilot announced Edmonton’s temperature while they were landing. “My smile kind of fell of my face and I think my tan fell off along the way,” he said with a chuckle. Still, he dons the sombrero he bought for his brother before heading on his way. Olé!

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