January 7, 2018 7:00 am
Updated: January 7, 2018 12:16 pm

January thaw: The weather phenomenon coming to save Canada from this cold

Canadians will be getting a short break from extreme cold.

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After weeks of extreme cold warnings and the “bomb cyclone,” Canadians could use a break from winter weather.

Thankfully, one is in store.

READ MORE: Niagara Falls’ breathtaking winter views are the upside of this extreme cold

A weather phenomenon dubbed the January thaw — unseasonably warm weather that arrives in the third or fourth week of the month — is set to warm things up in Canada at the end of this month.

Global News meteorologist Ross Hull explains that a January thaw, or a bonspiel thaw, happens in most years during the coldest part of the winter season.

WATCH: Tips to make your home safer in the winter months


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A thaw can last up to a week, but some years it’s only a couple hours long. It brings with it warmer temperatures — at times even above freezing.

Here’s exactly what the thaw entails, and what Canadians can expect this year:

Prediction for 2018: Where will the warm weather hit?

Eastern Canada, which is currently reeling from record-setting cold and heavy snow, will get some relief during the thaw, Hull predicts.

“Canadians in that part of the country can expect some relief from this bone-chilling cold for the second half of the month. Temperatures will return to more seasonal values even reaching above the freezing mark at times.”

WATCH: Coverage of the ‘bomb cyclone’

While Western Canada’s temperatures have already risen a bit, they will continue to rise as January continues.

“Even though there will still be bouts of cold weather across the Prairies at times this month, I’m not seeing the extreme cold that was in place in late December and early January,” Hull said.

READ MORE: ‘Bomb cyclone’ photos show intensity of storm as it pummelled East Coast

He added that Western Canada will also see some days of above average temperatures.

Global News’ chief meteorologist Anthony Farnell posted a map of the country, indicating that this January thaw will bring warmer temperatures for a couple weeks. He explained that there will be lots of melting snow during this time.

Will winter return with full force?

The January thaw is just a temporary gift for those who need a break — winter will return.

Hull reminds that while a thaw brings warmer temperatures, it is still January in Canada.

WATCH: Winter driving safety checklist

“Keep in mind that even though temperatures will be above average in January, there can still be snow and storms,” he said. “The average high temperature for much of the country in January is below the freezing mark, so even above normal can mean below freezing.”

PHOTOS: Here’s what an extreme cold snap looks like in Canada

Cold(er) weather will make a comeback at the end of February and into March, Hull said.

“Don’t expect this thaw to continue for the rest of the winter though. Long-range models are showing more arctic air moving across the country, so you can expect more cold in February and March.”

When’s the dead of winter?

The dead of winter is the coldest part of the year, but it also signals when the worst of the season is over, meaning temperatures will start to warm up afterward. The date varies across Canada.

“The dead of winter would be toward the end of January and early February, when on average there are usually the coldest temperatures in Canada,” Hull said.

WATCH: Toronto breaks record for coldest Jan. 5 since 1959

But things are little different this year.

“Some parts of the country may have already experienced the coldest weather they will see all winter — because of the nature of this extreme cold of late,” Hull noted.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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