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Some services experiencing higher demand as cold persists across Alberta

The weather in Leduc County is on a cold streak, while a small community in northwestern Alberta is the coldest place in the country.

All of Alberta is still under an extreme cold warning as a polar vortex moves eastward, resulting in frigid temperatures and harsh wind chills for the past several days. 

The weather has led to record temperatures in some places, including Edmonton International Airport, according to Environment Canada.

The agency’s weather station at the airport — located within Leduc County, just south of Edmonton — recorded a Sunday low temperature of –45.1 C, marking the third straight day of record-breaking daily cold temperatures, said Thomas Anderson of Environment Canada.

Meanwhile, Keg River, Alta., a hamlet about 545 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, recorded a Sunday low of –50.6 C, the lowest temperature in the country so far Sunday, Environment Canada data shows.

CBC News contacted multiple emergency services throughout the Alberta, such as Alberta Health Services and various police agencies and fire departments, inquiring about whether the extreme cold has resulted in greater calls for service.

The weather did not result in more calls for service for Alberta RCMP, a spokesperson said.

The Edmonton Fire Department, however, has had to respond to a higher volume of calls — mostly caused by water issues affecting alarms, a spokesperson said. The spokesperson was unable to provide exact figures at the time.

On Saturday night, there was a line up outside the door at the Bissell Centre, a non-profit agency that helps Edmontonians experiencing homelessness. The facility had planned for 50 people to use the space overnight, but the centre had 187 people use the overnight services. Its maximum capacity is 135 people.

The recent cold has strained Alberta’s power supply. Saturday evening, the province’s emergency management agency issued an alert, stating the grid was at risk of rolling power outages because of increased demand.

The alert was lifted Saturday night.

ATCO Electric and Fortis Alberta have each reported a few unplanned outages Sunday, affecting dozens of customers, according to their respective outage maps.

As of 3 p.m. MT Sunday, ATCO was reporting two confirmed active unplanned outages that started in the morning — one in Fort McMurray, Alta., and another in Red Earth Creek, Alta.

The outage in Fort McMurray, which is affecting 74 customers, started shortly after 4 a.m. Sunday. The restoration time has been pushed back throughout the day, but as of 3 p.m., ATCO estimates power will be back at 6 p.m. Sunday, according to the outage map.

The average temperature in Fort McMurray as of 2 p.m. was –38.9 C, with an average wind chill of about –46, Environment Canada data shows.

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