April 22nd, 2024

Record warmth in Toronto as snowfall and extreme cold affect parts of Prairies

By Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press on March 4, 2024.

A person bundled up for the cold weather walks through blowing snow in Regina, on Sunday, March 3, 2024. White-out conditions across much of the Prairies has forced highways to close, disrupted flights and prompted the mayor of one city to ask anyone without a vehicle equipped with four-wheel drive to stay home. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Toronto saw record-breaking warmth on Monday, with many residents taking advantage of the spring-like temperatures and sunshine, while heavy snow and extreme cold affected large parts of the Prairies following a weekend storm.

Environment Canada said the temperature in Toronto hit 14 C by Monday afternoon, surpassing the highest temperature on record for the city on March 4, which was 13.3 C in 1974.

Environment Canada meteorologist Geoff Coulson said temperatures in Toronto were expected to climb even higher on Tuesday.

“The overall weather pattern for Toronto and actually all of southern and central Ontario is (due to) a flow from the south bringing in warm, very warm (temperatures) and record-breaking warmth,” he said in a phone interview.

“We’re forecasting a high of 16 degrees on Tuesday. The current record for March 5 right now is 18.5 degrees set back in 2004, so that record may be safe.”

Coulson said other cities in Ontario were also seeing near-record or record-breaking temperatures on Monday.

“We could be looking at many locations across southern and central Ontario breaking records,” he said.

“In the southwest, we’re looking at places like Windsor and London, Sarnia, Kitchener, and then east of Toronto: Peterborough, Ottawa, Sudbury in central Ontario. All of these places right now have records that are at risk.”

Many were seen enjoying the afternoon weather in Toronto, with some taking their lunch outdoors to take advantage of the warmth.

Sarah Nasan said she decided to enjoy the weather in a park instead of eating at her office.

“It’s great to be able enjoy warm sun,” she said. “It feels like spring … I like having my lunch in the park.”

It was a very different story farther west, with Environment Canada issuing a snowfall warning for parts of northern Saskatchewan and northern Manitoba, with up to 20 centimetres expected in some regions before tapering off Monday evening.

Sections of many highways in Manitoba were closed Monday morning due to poor visibility and swirling snow, while several school divisions, including Lord Selkirk, Hanover, Sunrise, Red River and Brandon, shut schools for the day.

Brandon University’s main campus has also cancelled classes. The university said most offices and campus services were closed. The Winnipeg campus remained open.

An extreme cold warning was in effect for large parts of Alberta, with wind chills of nearly -40 C that weren’t expected to substantially moderate until Tuesday.

Heavy snows and wintry winds had grounded flights and closed highways across the Prairies over the weekend.

Environment Canada meteorologist Terri Lang said the hardest hit areas of Saskatchewan were in the west central region, including Saskatoon and through to North Battleford.

In Manitoba, crews were working to restore power after thousands on Sunday were left without functioning energy connections in Winnipeg and other communities.

– with files from Brittany Hobson.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2024.

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