Toronto breaks heat record as Newfoundland digs out from snowstorm

January 12, 2013

While typical Canadian weather in January means earmuffs, winter coats and snow tires, regions across Canada are experiencing a wide range in temperatures Saturday, from the record-breaking warmth forecast in Southern Ontario to snowstorms in Newfoundland.

"It's a wild, wild day here in the middle of January across all of Canada," said Dave Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment Canada. "It's like the dead of winter in some places, it's like the end of April in other places... It shows you what a big country it is."

While typical January weather in Toronto is usually around –2 C, Torontonians were sipping drinks on the patio of The Black Bull on Queen St. W.

The city reached a record-breaking high of 13 C as of 1 p.m. Saturday, with the warm weather expected to continue until Monday.

Before Saturday, the warmest Jan. 12 hit a high of 9.5 C in 2006.

Terry Hancock said she was planning on taking her kids tobogganing and skating on the weekend until she felt the weather outside.

"They've asking me if it's still winter!" said the mother of four with a laugh. "It's been a lovely day... We literally are just walking out and seeing what we find to do through the neighbourhood."

Outdoor adventures are usually less common for kids in January, said local parent Kirby Anderson. While his nine-year-old normally stays inside playing video games, Saturday morning was spent playing baseball and football outside.

"Do you think it's warm enough for shorts?" he asked his daughter. She responded with an enthusiastic head nod.

Southern Ontario may be breaking records for warmth, but Newfoundland saw on Saturday "one of the worst storms they've seen in years," Mr. Phillips said.

St. John's International Airport closed due to 111 km/h winds after a massive dump of snow, and Newfoundland Power reported outages from the Avalon Peninsula of southeast Newfoundland to Corner Brook on the west coast.

Since the snowfall stopped around 7:30 p.m. last night, most of the province experienced rainfall Saturday.

"It's like cement trying to shovel that snow," said Mr. Phillips. "They went from blizzard conditions to now rain, and temperatures that are above the freezing line."

He added that Newfoundland is still expected to have high winds, further worsening the storm.

Similarly, temperatures were about a dozen degrees colder than usual in areas like Regina on Saturday, which stood at –23 C as of 1 p.m.

Residents of Winnipeg experienced snowfall for hours Saturday morning and "brutally cold weather" at –33 C, according to Mr. Phillips.

But on the west coast, Vancouverites were almost as fortunate as patio-dining Torontonians.

Though temperatures are cooler, the sun was shining all day Saturday.

"Who would have thought that Vancouver would go seven days with dry and sunny weather, when normally it would be cloudy with days of rain?" said Mr. Phillips.

The sunshine in the city is expected to continue all through the week.

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