A deep freeze has settled in over the Prairies as extreme cold warnings stretch from the base of the Rocky Mountains and into northwestern Ontario.

Environment and Climate Change Canada expects wind chill values of up to -45 Celsius. The base temperature in Winnipeg Saturday morning will be in the -30s C or lower, and winds around 10-15 kilometres per hour will make it seem even colder.

The daytime high will only reach up into the -20s C, with wind chill making it feel like the -30s C.

Extreme cold is expected to return Saturday evening. Exposed skin can get frostbite in 10 minutes or less, ECCC said.

Sunday will be slightly warmer with a high in the low -20s C, but winds up to 20 km/hr will still produce extreme wind chills down to the -40s C.

The extreme cold presents a risk for anyone outdoors, especially the homeless, outdoor workers and winter activity enthusiasts. People living in poorly insulated homes, with certain medical conditions, people who drink alcohol, infants and seniors are also at an increased risk of frostbite or hypothermia.

ECCC advises people to wear layers of warm clothing, including a wind-blocking outer layer.

After Sunday, the weather warms dramatically. There will be daytime highs in Winnipeg in the minus single-digits. On Tuesday there is a chance of some flurries.

Braving the cold

Terribly cold temperatures didn't stop thrill seekers from hitting the slopes at Stony Mountain Ski Area on the first day of the season.

"Skin feels like a knife is cutting my skin," said Richard Sun who was skiing.

On Saturday, ECCC issued an extreme cold warning as wind chill values dipped as low as - 45 across much of southern Manitoba.

But the cold wasn’t a bad thing for the hill's owners, who had to delay opening day because of a warm fall.

"The colder it is the better snow we make. It has to be at least - 8 for us to do it or else it turns to a puddle, so on days like today we are making really good snow," said Camryn Dewar with Stony Mountain Ski Area.

The cold can make life a little more challenging for the city's most vulnerable.

Dozens of people turned up at Union Gospel Mission's weekly harvest for a chance to warm up inside and pick up fresh food.

"We all need the comforts of home,” said Andrew Tunny who was cooking.

Union Gospel Mission said it's always in need of warm clothing donations. Items can be dropped off anytime at 320 Princess St.

For parking attendants managing the busy parking lot at the new Jollibee restaurant on Ellice Avenue it was a battle against the elements to stay warm.

"Early part of the day I was getting frozen toes, but I’ m getting better,” said one of the attendants.

As cold as it may feel, it's not the coldest day of 2016 in Winnipeg.

On Jan. 17, 2016, the temperature was slightly lower at -32.3 degrees. On Sat., Dec. 17, the low was -32.2.

- With files from Beth Macdonell