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Toronto under extreme cold weather alert ahead of big temperature drop, possible snowstorm

Dangerously cold weather grips millions of Canadians
WATCH: Millions of Canadians are bracing for potentially dangerous weather, after Environment Canada issued weather alerts for virtually the entire country. Global News meteorologist Ross Hull looks at what the country can expect in the coming days.

Toronto is under an extreme cold weather alert ahead of a big drop in temperature Thursday night, while a possible snowstorm is also in the forecast for Saturday.

Toronto’s medical officer of health issued the alert as the city’s expected to experience a wind chill of -20 overnight.

“The coldest air so far this month and since mid-December is sweeping across southern Ontario and the GTA thanks to an arctic cold front,” said Global News meteorologist Ross Hull.

READ MORE: Snow squall warning in effect for Barrie, Collingwood, Hillsdale: Environment Canada

“Temperatures will be plummeting today and are expected to drop to around -12 C overnight into Friday morning. Factor in the wind chill and it will feel closer to -20 C.”

Hull said snow squalls could also be expected in traditional snow belts, with some bands impacting parts of the GTA.

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The City is advising residents to limit outdoor time as much as possible, adding people experiencing homelessness, children, elderly people, and those with pre-existing health conditions are most at risk of cold-related illnesses.

READ MORE: Damage caused by flooding, freezing rain being assessed across southern Ontario

A warming centre is expected to open at Metro Hall by 7 p.m. Thursday and additional street outreach is expected during the alert.

City information about shelters and respite sites is available here.

A possible snowstorm is also in the forecast for Saturday, though the temperature is expected to rise by then.

Southern Ontario deals with aftermath of major storm
Southern Ontario deals with aftermath of major storm

“With that arctic air in place, a Texas Low with a fair amount of moisture will move in Saturday morning,” Hull said.

“Computer models are not showing as much snow with this as earlier in the week, but it still looks like there is the potential for 7 to 12 cm of snow in the GTA beginning Saturday morning and lasting into the afternoon … with a changeover to rain likely by late afternoon and evening.”

Northern and some western parts of the GTA could see closer to 15 cm from the system, Hull added.