Canadians from British Columbia to Manitoba are being warned to batten down the hatches, bundle up or just stay inside Monday night as bitterly cold winds sweep across a significant swath of western Canada.

Winds up to 80 kilometres an hour are set to make already cold temperatures feel like -50 C and could cause white-out conditions on roadways, turning minor snowfalls into major headaches for drivers.

"It's going to get very bad in terms of wind velocity and blowing and drifting snow," said CTV Winnipeg CTV weather expert Sylvia Kuzyk on Monday evening. "Not so bad in terms of quantity of snow... There will be gusts up to 80 km/hour, tapering off in the morning.

"It could be the coldest air mass we've seen this winter."

The temperature in Winnipeg was a balmy -6 C at 7 p.m. Monday night, but expected to drop to -17 C by midnight and stay cold for the rest of the week. Windchill warnings were in effect across the province, with an additional blizzard warning and 3 to 4 centimetres of snow forecast for the southern part of Manitoba.

In Saskatchewan, many stayed home from work Monday as a combination of high winds and heavy snowfall made moving around the province a challenge. Between five and 10 centimetres fell throughout the day with temperatures much like Manitoba's freezing fare.

Alberta wasn't spared either, also spending most of Monday digging out of heavy snows as many residential roads remain unplowed. Tow trucks around Edmonton were working on a 24-hour lead time and school busses in that city arrived to pick up their charges up to two hours late Monday morning.

Many school districts have already cancelled busses for Tuesday, waiting instead for more easily navigable road conditions. The same goes for garbage collection, which will be delayed until after snowplows have dug out residential streets.

Monday night, temperatures in Alberta were hovering near -30 C but felt more like -45 with the windchill in many parts of the province.

B.C. wasn't spared either, facing similar temperatures in parts of the Interior. A wind-chill warning was in effect throughout Monday for Peace River, Kinbasket, Elk Valley, North Columbia, Cariboo and North Thompson, according to Environment Canada.

Dan Kulak, an extreme weather specialist, had a particularly dire warning of the consequences of the frosty weather in western Canada.

"With the wind chills and the bitter temperatures, this is the coldest cold snap since last year,'' he told The Canadian Press on Monday evening. "The average person has a chance of exposed skin freezing in probably a couple of minutes. The smart thing to do is don't head out if you don't have to."