Intensely frigid temperatures blew away many records for extreme cold in Quebec on Thursday, with bone-chilling temperatures persisting overnight and continuing Friday morning.

Environment Canada's Catherine Vallieres said that the week-end should bring warmer temperatures, though.

On. Jan 2, most temperatures across the province felt colder than -30 C with the wind-chill, and in some areas plummeted into the almost unfathomably freezing territory of-50 C.

In the afternoon of Jan. 2, Montreal was more than twice as cold as Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Many record cold temperatures were set, including one that dated back from 1922 in Temiscaming, where the previous cold of -30.6 C was blown away by the -34.2 C  set Thursday. 

Val D'Or saw a staggering temperature of  -41.6 C, half a degree colder than the previous record, set in 1980.

In Montreal the mercury never got above -24.2 C, far below the average high of -5 C that usually accompanies this date. The coldest January 2 in Montreal recorded history took place in 1968 when it hit -28.3 C, according to Environment Canada. 

Batteries need boosts

The cold was so intense that many car batteries failed to hold a charge and required a boost.

CAA Quebec was so busy giving boosts that their services were slowed down and the company permitted members to call other battery-recharging services with a vow to repay any bills presented within 30 days.

About 5,000 calls came in requesting battery boosts but many more would likely have been made had more Quebecers been on the job following the holidays. CAA representative Sophie Gagnon told CTV Montreal earlier Thursday that they had been expecting up to 8,000 calls.

She said there would be about 1,100 tow trucks on the road on Jan. 2 throughout the province.

Gagnon advised people to use block heaters to warm up their engines and also suggested that drivers keep their gas tanks half full to ensure that thier gas line doesn’t freeze.

Dr. Jose Morais, chief of geriatrics at the McGill University Health Centre, said that the elderly, and  those with chronic conditions such as heart or lung disease, diabetes or asthma are particularly at risk for cold weather-related conditions such as frostbite.

He said their health conditions weaken the warning signs that their core temperature is decreasing, which can lead to health complications.

Dr. Morais said that layering clothing, protecting one’s head and neck with a hat and scarf, and staying hydrated are measures everyone can take to make sure their core body temperature stays at a healthy level.

He also predicted an increase in injuries caused by falling on ice, which always seems to follow a cold snap, he said.

The Old Brewery Mission said it expects a bump in visitors and will open its doors to anyone who needs a warm place to stay.

Though they run the largest men's shelter in Quebec and the largest women's shelter in Canada, director general Matthew Pearce said Monday that  they still expect every bed to be taken during the cold snap and then some.

“We’ll have mattresses on the ground, we'll have cots out if we have to,” he said.

The City of Montreal is also taking special measures, scattering abrasives on frozen sidewalks and streets.

“There's always an emphasis around metro station entrances, bus stops and hospitals to make sure that the city is safe and sound,” said city spokesman Jacques-Alain Lavallee.

Across the country, the weather has been affecting Canadians for better and for worse.The cold spell that has taken over much of the country seems to be only the beginning of a chilly season ahead – the current frigid temperatures aren’t that far off from what meteorologists are predicting for the rest of the winter.

“I don't want to alarm people, but the last time we had a winter in Canada was that we could declare was colder-than-usual was 18 years ago. So we're sort of out of practice,” said David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada.

Wind-chill warnings are in effect Montreal and throughout Quebec, issued on Jan. 1. When temperatures fall below -20 C, the risk of hypothermia and frostbite multiplies.

Phillips pointed out that, in general, the cold across Canada arrived earlier than usual and has been persistent.

“Really, the cold air has just flooded in, and just doesn’t want to leave,” he said, adding that weather models are indicating that January and February will be slightly colder than usual.

In Ottawa, the Rideau Canal Skateway opened Tuesday -- 10 days earlier than usual, and its earliest opening day in nearly a decade.

And in Quebec City, the famed Ice Hotel is opening a week early.

But in Winnipeg, the cold was blamed for flight cancellations New Year’s Eve. According to the Manitoba Museum, for a time on Tuesday, the temperature in Winnipeg was colder than it was on Mars.

The high of -31 C in Manitoba’s capital was two degrees colder than the maximum air temperature reached on Mars.

-- with files from the Canadian Press