February 24, 2014 4:36 pm
Updated: February 26, 2014 2:26 pm

Get ready for the return of the polar vortex


ABOVE: The Polar Vortex is back!

TORONTO – Just when you think you’re out, it pulls you back in.

The polar vortex is back, so that means it’s going to be cold across most of Canada. Very cold.

From Alberta to the Maritimes, temperatures will be below average this week.

But it’s Saskatchewan through to Quebec that will feel the chill the most.

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READ MORE: Will this be Canada’s coldest winter?

In Winnipeg, the daytime high for this time of year is around -6 C, but this week, the daytime high will be near -20 C. At this time of year, the normal daytime high for Toronto is 1 C, but there, too, the mercury will dip well below that, closer to -11. The minimum the city can expect is -7 C normally — this week overnight temperatures will be closer to -22 C by the end of the week.

The Arctic air is once again being funnelled down into the Prairies, Ontario, and Quebec via the vortex that refuses to stay where it usually resides — the Arctic.

WATCH: What is the polar vortex?

To see how the polar vortex funnels the Arctic air down to central Canada, you just need to look at next week’s temperatures: in the Yukon, Whitehorse will be warmer than most of the Prairies and Ontario this week, with a high of -8 C.

Several times this winter, the polar vortex, a normal, year-round weather pattern that isn’t usually something most of Canada has to deal with, has meandered from its home in the Arctic paying a chilly visit to southern Canada and parts of the U.S.

“The pattern itself is a very stubborn one,” said Geoff Coulson, Warning Preparedness Meteorologist with Environment Canada. “And once we see this pattern assert itself, it takes something pretty significant to shake it out of that pattern and get into something else and we haven’t really seen that big shake up.”

READ MORE: Winnipeg posts second-coldest December since 1893

Any relief that we’ve seen has been fleeting: a few days here and there, but always, the cold returns.

And it looks like the below-normal temperatures are expected to continue in the coming months. Though the official forecast for March, April, and May won’t be released for another week or so, Coulson said that current models don’t show any relief.

“Right now it shows that for March, April and May, temperature-wise — the Great Lakes basin, southern Quebec, the Maritimes, eastern Prairies, all of us — it’s going to be colder than normal, overall, for that three-month period.”

That’s not to say that we won’t get warm days during those months or even that it will be as bone-chillingly cold as it’s been this winter.

But there is a bright side — literally.

“If we’re looking at the glass is half-full side of the equation, it’s the sunshine,” Coulson said, explaining that the high pressure will bring more sunlight — and at a time when we’re starting to notice more daylight.

So just try to remember that when you’re shivering in the sunlight. It could be worse.

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