Radical Weather Patterns Confuse Torontonians and Ontario Residents

By Liora Langman, Staff Writer

Residents across Ontario had geared up for winter 2022-2023, but the usually cold winter that they expected in December never hit. However, this was not a complete shock as records show that Ontario—and thereby, Toronto—has been slowly heating up over the years. (see figure below for comparisons)

Comparison of temperature averages showing warming from 1981-2010 vs 2010-2019 
Data: Current Results Toronto 

December 2022 and January 2023 have been no exception to the pattern of warming, with record high temperatures recorded for these months. In December 2022, the wild weather patterns were described as a “roller coaster ride” by CTV News Toronto. CTV reported that “most of the month saw above average temperatures, but drastic swings disrupted that trend in southern Ontario. Between December 23 and 26, daily temperatures plummeted 10 degrees below normal as a wicked winter storm cascaded across the province.”

Environment Canada stated in its December weather summary that in the closing days of 2022,“winter decided to take a holiday.” The beginning of January 2023 continued this trend of above average temperatures.

CTV spoke with extreme weather expert, Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo, regarding his thoughts on this. Feltmate hypothesized that “climate change is causing mild winter temperatures to become more frequent across the country, one extreme weather expert says,” but added that it is hard to attribute individual weather events to global warming and climate change. Feltmate elaborated: “not every extreme temperature event can be directly linked to climate change, but it certainly is consistent with the prediction of climate change.” Feltmate also expressed how rising temperatures are still dangerous regardless as they increase the risk of flooding, where “precipitation can come down in the form of snow that’s just below freezing temperature or in the form of major rain events,” which he underlined may be risky for Canada due to the number of homes and buildings with basements. “The No. 1 expression of climate change in Canada is flooding, particularly residential basement flooding, flooding in municipalities including individual homes,” Feltmate warned.

Dough Gillham, a meteorologist with The Weather Network also expressed his concern. Gillham explained, “We’re used to January thaws, but this January has become more than just a thaw. It’s really quite a break from the winter pattern that’s going to last much longer than normal and be so widespread.” Gillham predicts that colder-than-normal winter temperatures are expected to return in late January or early February.

Gillham’s predictions seem to be yielding correct with the second half of January 2023 having temperatures as cold as -7.2℃ in Toronto, Ontario, and lower minimum temperatures elsewhere in Ontario.

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