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Edmonton - Eskimos, Ermine & Energy
What little we knew about Alberta completely outstripped ANYTHING we knew about Edmonton. I swear, about the only thing I knew about Edmonton was that it was home to a hockey team (Edmonton Oilers) and that Rachel's friend, Patti, grew up there. That's it. (Oh yeah, and that it's WAY further north than I thought I'd EVER live!!)
Now we're headed there. Go figure. What can I tell you about Edmonton?
Well, for starters, it's the capital city of Alberta! It straddles the great Saskatchewan River and sits on the central prairie, about 400 kilometers east of the Rocky Mountains (and Jasper National Park). The city sits at about 50°30' north latitude (about the same latitude as Hamburg, Germany; Liverpool, England; or Kiev, Russia), at an elevation of 2,200 feet. It's the most northerly of Canada's major cities and the sixth largest. Edmonton proper holds about 700,000 people (and the greater metropolitan area is home to some 1 million, fully 1/3 of the population of the whole province).
On the plus side, Edmonton has the longest stretch of urban parkland in all of North America (about 22 times larger than New York's Central Park and 8 times larger than Vancouver's Stanley Park). Hey, if you like golfing, you'll like Edmonton because there are over 70 golf courses here (of course, the water obtacles become geese runways in the fall, ice-skating rinks in the winter, duck landing spots during the spring). If you like to shop, you'll likely be attracted by the fact that Edmonton is home to the World's largest shopping center, the West Edmonton Mall, home to over 800 stores and 5 World-class attractions.
Like most cities, Edmonton has a "sister" city. Edmonton's is in the U.S.A. and is Nashville, Tennessee (the tie was created in 1990).
TEMPS: Summers are very pleasant with daytime high temperatures averaging around 20°C (68°F) and overnight lows around 10°C (50°F). Occasionally the daytime high surpasses 30°C (86°F). Due to the low humidity, the heat is dry and seldom oppressive.
Normally the first frost appears sometime near the end of September. Most trees change color in late September and shed their leaves in early October. This is a very pretty time of year. Daytime highs are usually around 15°C (59°F), but evenings require a jacket or sweater. The first permanent snowfall usually occurs in early November, although this may vary by a week or two.
The first real taste of the colder winter temperatures usually occurs in November. January and early February are the coldest months of the year, and the overnight lows can reach as much as -40°C (-40°F). Temperatures can vary considerably in winter, depending if the climate comes from the Pacific Ocean or Alaska. Daytime highs during these months can range from -30°C (-22°F) on the coldest days to above 0°C (30°F). Usually a cold spell lasts a week or so and then there is relief. Most of the colder days are usually sunny.
Spring can be quite unpredictable, although most of the winter snow has usually melted by the beginning of April. The leaves reappear on most trees near the middle of May.
The hottest day in Edmonton's history was 37.3°C (98.6°F) on June 28th, 1937.
The coldest day ever recorded was -40°C (-40°F) on January 19th, 1886.
SUN: Visitors are assured of plenty of sun and beautiful blue skies during their visit, regardless of the season. The city averages 12.32 hours of sunshine each day, more than any other major Canadian city!
During the summer months of June and much of July, daylight lasts about 17 hours. The sun rises around 5 am and sets around 10 pm.
In most of December and early January the days are short. The sun rises around 8:30 am and sets around 4:30 pm.
MOISTURE: Rainfall and snowfall combined, accounts for an average of 19 inches of precipitation per year. Rainfall averages 13 inches and snow makes up the rest, with a moderate average annual snowfall total of about 51 inches (equalling about 6 inches of meltwater). Because of low temperatures and humidity, the snow is usually very light and powdery. Rarely does Edmonton receive large dumps of snow. It might be a week or so between snowfalls and they're usually only a couple of inches at a time. There is about 121 days per year where Edmonton has a snow cover of an inch or more.
NIGHTTIME: During certain nights of the year, it is likely that you'll catch a glimpse of the spectacular northern lights (Aurora Borealis).
Edmonton myths debunked:
Edmontonians do NOT live in igloos. (The nearest igloo is probably several thousand miles north, though Santa has been spotted hanging out at a couple local bars).
Edmonton does NOT have snow all year round. There is usually snow on the ground from mid-November to mid-March (4 months), but it's rarely very deep. (The person writing this, observed that the daytime temperature on Jan 14th was 43°F, under bright sun. There was about 6 inches of old snow on their yard and it was melting rapidly.) The 70 golf courses in Edmonton are busy from mid-May to mid-October.
Edmonton police are NOT Mounties, dressed in red uniforms. Canada DOES have Mounties, but they only wear red for ceremonial occasions. Edmonton has its own police force, and they look and sound like cops in most American cities (only they say "eh" a lot). The Mounties (RCMP) have a limited presence in Edmonton and they are more active in rural areas . . . minus the red uniforms.
Edmontonians do NOT speak French. People in Quebec speak French, but in Alberta everyone speaks English. (Well, there is a tiny minority that speak French, but most of them speak English also.)