After an extremely mild month of January, the province is bracing for a blast of arctic air.

Environment and Climate Change Canada issued extreme cold warnings that stretch from the northern tip of the province, down toward Lachute and Saint-Jerome with wind chills on Thursday night expected to be between -38 and -48.

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An aggressive arctic front will push across the province on Thursday. The front will produce intense snow squalls that could cause near-zero visibility at times on the roads.

Montreal is expecting flurries during the day with intense bursts of snow in time for the evening commute.

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Environment Canada has issued special weather statements, warning motorists to be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions resulting in whiteouts, and possible black ice.

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Behind the front, temperatures will drop rapidly Thursday night. Montreal will go from a high of -1 C Thursday evening to a low of -21 C in a matter of hours.

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The front will open the door to the polar vortex, which will bring Montreal its coldest air of the season — and the coldest air in years.

The temperature on Friday night will drop to -27 C with the wind making it feel closer to -40.

The mercury is expected to stay below -20 C on Saturday, with a wind chill of -30.

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The last time Montreal recorded a daytime high below -20 C was on January 6, 2018.

Fortunately, the extreme cold will be short-lived.

Temperatures will bounce back above the freezing mark on Sunday with about five centimetres of snow, and milder air is in the forecast for next week.

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The arctic air comes after a month of really mild temperatures in the province.

Montreal saw a mean temperature of -4.6 C, which is more than five degrees above average.

Snowfall for the city was nearly double the normal.

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