Toronto has been issued its first extreme cold weather alert of the season, while snowfall and potentially record falling temperatures are expected in the city and surrounding area late Thursday afternoon and into the evening as a cold front moves through the region.
With windchill values of -18 in the forecast, Toronto Public Health issued an extreme cold weather alert early Thursday afternoon that is in effect until further notice.
In addition to serving as a reminder to the public to take precautions in order to stay warm and dry, the order means additional services such as shelter beds will be made available.
Environment Canada has issued a winter weather travel advisory for much of southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area, which includes both cities as well as York-Durham and Halton-Peel regions.
A snow squall watch has also been issued for several areas off of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, where snow accumulations of 15 cm are expected, including the Barrie, London and Waterloo regions.
Global News Chief Meteorologist Anthony Farnell said rain showers will quickly change into wet snow flurries as a sharp cold front swings through.
“This will usher in the coldest November temperatures we’ve seen in three years and we could break daily records on Friday.”
A mix of sun and cloud is expected on Thursday, with showers expected to turn into flurries as the temperature drops in the afternoon. Wind gusts of 30 to 50 km/h are also expected with a low of -10°C.
Farnell said with the temperatures rapidly falling during the evening commute, drivers should be prepared for icy and slippery conditions on some untreated surfaces.
“There is even the potential for a flash freeze of some overpasses and bridges,” he said.
Geoff Coulson is a meteorologist with Environment Canada, the agency that issued the weather advisories.
Coulson said Thursday is going to be the beginning of the coldest night of the fall season so far.
“As that cold air continues to rush down Thursday night into early Friday morning we’re looking at a wake-up temperature of -10°C, so much colder than normal,” Coulson said.
Normal temperatures for this time of year sit at highs of about 8°C and lows of 0°C. The lowest temperature on record for Nov. 9 is -8.4°C set in 1991.
Not much is expected in the way of flurry activity on Friday morning, however, the cooler temperatures are expected to stick around with a daytime high of -2°C.
Coulson said the very cold temperatures aren’t expected to last long.
“We already see temperatures bouncing back to closer to seasonal values by the start of next week,” he said. “But this is a bit of a reminder of what’s to come over the coming weeks.”
Those travelling north and west of Toronto are advised to prepare for snow squall conditions and snow accumulations of 15 cm or more.
A watch alert for regions near Lake Huron and Georgian Bay said conditions are favourable for a period of lake effect snow squalls beginning Thursday evening and into the day Friday.
Farnell said visibility could be reduced as a result of heavy snow caused by the snow squall bands, combined with blowing snow.
“Friday morning’s commute could be difficult across some parts of southern Ontario.”
It’s possible that a snow squall warning could be issued as Environment Canada continues to monitor the conditions.