This isn't normal: It's 'exceptionally cold' in Toronto for this time of year

Jan 5 2018, 4:09 pm

It’s been cold in Toronto.

So cold that we haven’t stopped talking about it, and for good reason. According to Environment Canada, Toronto’s average temperature is roughly 15°C below normal these days.

Although it’s not the -31.3°C felt on January 4, 1981, Environment Canada Forecaster Greg Pearce says it is definitely cold.

“We’re very cold now,” Pearce said. “Fifteen degrees below normal is exceptionally cold for this time of year, but not record breaking.” (Well, except for today.)

Even without breaking records, the city has been seeing the effects of the cold since this snap began early in December.

For a few days now, some of the TTC’s streetcar had troubles operating in the cold. So much so, the TTC ended up using buses for a few routes.

Not only is the cold a problem on land, but also on the water.

An annual tradition for the past 13 years, Toronto’s Polar Bear Dip missed its 14th year. The 2018 swim didn’t take place as planned on January 1 due to, you guessed it, extreme cold.

“Unfortunately due to ice conditions at Sunnyside Beach and in consideration of participant safety we have made the difficult decision to cancel the Toronto Polar Bear Dip for the first time in 13 years,” said organizers in a statement. “Today we have to consider the safety of everyone first and foremost.”

But even if it did happen, many of Toronto’s shores are frozen solid.

And some locals showed us just how frigid temperatures are on the water. Earlier this week, Torontonians laced up and headed to the frozen Toronto harbour near the island for an afternoon game of hockey.

Keep in mind, Toronto police have issued a warning to stay off the ice, as it’s not safe.

Toronto Harbour


The fun on the frozen water doesn’t stop there.

Someone posted a video showing an ice boat adventure. The boat can be seen gliding across the frozen lake, with picturesque views of the Toronto skyline appearing in the distance.

Ice boating


But of course, it’s not all fun and games when its this cold outside.

During these weather conditions, Toronto Public Health usually issues Extreme Cold Weather Alerts. These alerts are sent out when the temperature of -15°C or colder is forecasted, or a wind chill of -20°C  or colder.

Toronto Public Health warns that cold weather can result in the development of cold-related injuries, such as frostnip, frostbite and hypothermia. They recommend wearing waterproof and windproof outer layers, a hat and warm mittens to keep warm.

Because it’s so cold, the City of Toronto has actively opened more shelters for those in need.

After they expanded the winter respite capacity at the Better Living Centre (BLC) site from 110 beds to 150 to accommodate increased demand, the City opened two more 24/7 warming centres in the downtown core to provide additional relief for homeless individuals and their pets.

The warming centres are located at Metro Hall, 55 John Street and Regent Park Community Centre, 402 Shuter Street. Each centre will operate 24/7 and will remain open until the current extreme cold weather alert is terminated.

Luckily, looking ahead, the extreme cold weather should be ending within a few days.

With snow in the forecast, Toronto will warm up a full 17°C by Monday, for a high of 0°C.

But until then, take care walking on that ice, layer up, drink all the hot chocolate, stay inside, and if you are outside and see someone in need of assistance call 311. In case of an emergency (for example, a person lying on the street with skin exposed), please call 911.


Environment Canada

With files from Ainsley Smith.

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