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Toronto sees warmest meteorological winter in recorded history

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Toronto just experienced its warmest meteorological winter in recorded history, with the temperature averaging above freezing for the first time on record.

From December through February, which is considered meteorological winter, the mean temperature was 0.3 C at Toronto Pearson International Airport, Global News meteorologist Anthony Farnell said.

“The average winter temperature for December to February at Pearson is -4 C, but it’s been warming over the past couple decades,” Farnell said.

“The next warmest winters on record were 2001-2002 and 2011-2012 with means of -0.1 C and -0.4 C.”

And the mild weather is continuing through the beginning of March, with it feeling more like mid-April.

More than double the normal amount of rain was also seen in Toronto this winter, he said.

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And just 47 centimetres of snow has fallen so far at Pearson — less than half the seasonal average.

“The final number won’t be known for a while because we continue to count snow amounts until the last flake falls, which often isn’t until late April,” Farnell said.

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Milder winters that see more rain than snow are more common during El Niño, which Toronto has experienced for almost a year.

Climate change is also a major factor in this milder-than-normal winter with the above-seasonal temperatures extending across almost the entirety of Canada,” Farnell said.

In 2011-12, Toronto saw its least snowy winter on record with only 43 cm of snow.

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Meanwhile, the rest of southern Ontario has seen either its warmest or second-warmest winter on record “with much below normal snowfall,” Farnell said.

In Ottawa, for the first time, the temperature never dropped below -20 C.

The mean temperature there was -3.7 C, which ties 2001-02 for the warmest on record, Farnell said.

A man and dog walk along the boardwalk at The Beaches in Toronto, Feb. 10, 2024, on an unseasonably warm winter day. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Rachel Verbin

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