Deep freeze: Record-setting low temperatures grip Ontario, Quebec
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, February 23, 2015 2:41PM EST
The groundhogs that predicted several more weeks of winter appear to know what they were talking about, as parts of Quebec and Ontario continue to experience temperatures several degrees colder than normal.
While the West Coast and southern Alberta continue to enjoy mild temperatures, much of Ontario, Quebec and parts of Atlantic Canada remain under extreme cold warnings.
Extreme cold weather alerts were in effect Monday for most of Ontario, southern Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Wind chill factors are forecast between -30 C and -40 C Monday and into Tuesday.
Environment Canada forecasts that temperatures will remain below zero for the rest of February in southern Ontario. If they do, this year will mark the first time that temperatures have stayed below freezing for an entire calendar month in the area since 1978, the agency said Monday in a special weather summary.
“As has been the case quite often this winter, yet another Arctic air mass has arrived, resulting in quite a few new record low minimum temperatures across Southern Ontario for today,” the statement said.
“Stiff northwesterly winds combined with these frigid temperatures have also resulted in yet another round of extreme cold warnings this morning.”
Many cities across southern Ontario posted new record lows, or got close to them, Monday morning. At Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, the recorded temperature at 7 a.m. was –21.6 C, breaking the previous record of -19.4 C, which was set in 1972.
Hamilton’s new record is -25 C, compared to -22.2 C set way back in 1870. London’s new record of -24 C beat the previous record of -19.3 C, set in 2011, and Sarnia dipped to -23.1 C, beating the 2011 record of -20.6 C.
Peter Kimbell, warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, said Monday that Ottawa’s current mean temperature for February is -16.3 C. That’s 8 degrees colder than the normal mean temperature for the month in Ottawa, which is -8.1 C.
“That’s huge,” Kimbell told CTVNews.ca in an email.
“The record coldest month of February in Ottawa was -16.6 C in February 1934. So we probably won’t beat it, but we will come very close.”
Back in February 1885, the mean temperature was -15.9 C.
“We are sure to beat that,” Kimbell said, adding that the trend is the same across Ontario and parts of Quebec, as well.
Cold air from the Northwest Territories is typically to blame for a deep freeze, Kimbell said. But this time, it’s “a big ridge of high pressure” off the B.C. coast, over the Pacific Ocean.
“On the east side of that the winds are streaming down from the northwest and covering the rest of the continent with cold air,” Kimbell told CTV News Channel.
Meanwhile, residents wondering when the deep freeze will end will have to suffer through a few more weeks of winter.
Below-normal temperatures are forecast to stick around through the first week of March.
“We can just cross our fingers that maybe by mid-March we’ll start to see some good weather,” Kimbell said.