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Has it really been that cold in southern Ontario?

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Patrick Cool
Digital writer, theweathernetwork.com

Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 9:46 AM -

As we surpass the half-way mark of February and gaze with excitement at the balmy temperatures in this week’s forecast for southern Ontario, it’s time to reassure you and say yes, this winter’s been a cold one!

But how cold has it been, really?

Let’s look at some numbers and help you find your inner weather geek.

First, this analysis is done for the City of Toronto, where observations are available since 1840 (174 years of record).  In the table below you’ll see climatological winter season rankings, from Dec 1 to Feb 28/29 (when applicable).


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We’ve used the Pointcast for the University of Toronto to fill in the rest of February so this in fact a predicted rank for the winter of 2013-2014.  

Registering as the 38th coldest in 174 years doesn’t seem that cold unless you think of it as 136 winters have been warmer than this one. Basically we haven’t seen a winter this cold in 20 years and it's been colder than the winters of 1978 and 1979, which were famous for the chill. This winter also comes on the heels of the eighth warmest winter in 100 years that we had last year.

Bottom line here: you’re not crazy.


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What has this caused?  Definitely more ice on the lakes than we’ve seen in a while.  No surprise that 1993 just surpasses this year as it matches the average temperature values in the table above.

This satellite image from February 17, 2014 shows near complete ice cover on Lakes Erie and Huron while deeper Lake Ontario remains mostly ice free.

NEXT PAGE: WHAT'S NEXT FOR WINTER 2013/14?


What’s next?  Is the warmer weather this week the light at the end of the tunnel? 

Well, temperatures are set to take a bit of a dive in southern Ontario. Here is the probability of this outcome in a map:

Yes there’s high confidence that the cold will in fact come back, but for how long?
If you made it this far, I'm proud!


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As meteorologists, we can have a look at what very long range computer forecast models are predicting for the next month as a whole. Here’s a look at the average temperture as predicted by one model for the entire month of March. The pattern of colder than normal temperatures appears to continue. We won’t be able to put away our thick winter coats for some time.  

This feels like quite the chilling article, but we hope you find it informative. 

Bottom line: this is great for news for winter season outdoor enthusiasts!


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