polar vortex toronto

Bone-chilling cold in the forecast for Toronto as Polar Vortex approaches

With just a handful of significant snow events and zero extreme cold weather alerts issued so far, Toronto has gotten off pretty easy this winter season — at least in terms of weather.

The lowest temperature recorded in the city since November of 2020 has in fact been a mere - 9 C (not factoring in the wind chill, mind you, but still much warmer than what we've come to expect at this time of year.)

Milder-than-normal weather has served as a welcome reprieve, if not a lifeline amid successive lockdowns that have now seen Toronto restaurants, bars, retail stores, theatres, gyms and more closed for nearly two months.

Sadly, experts say our good fortune could be coming to an end thanks to a dreaded meteorological phenomenon known as The Polar Vortex.

As Bloomberg describes it, a spike in atmospheric temperatures above the North Pole may soon "send bone-rattling chills spilling down through the Northern Hemisphere."

The temperature spike far north could effectively break the band of wind that normally encircles the Arctic, keeping intensely frigid temperatures concentrated at the pole.

This would in turn send sharp, icy blasts of wind south into Canada and beyond sometime later this month — though hopefully less severe than those that froze life as we knew it in 2014.

"It won't just make it cold, it makes it face-numbingly cold," said Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips to CTV of the impending weather event, noting that we could also expect "heavy snow falls and moisture."

Phillips says that it looks like the extreme cold will hit during the fourth week of January, but cautions that it's almost impossible to predict where the Polar Vortex will land and for how long it will stay in play.

"There's nothing guaranteed with weather and it's not often well understood to give us a precise forecast," he told CTV.

"The end of January is when we typically reach our coldest temperatures across the southern part of Canada. The good news is that it means winter will be half over by the time it's here."

The bad news is that meteorologists widely expect the second half of winter in Southern Ontario to be colder than the first.

With cases of COVID-19 spiking higher than ever and stricter lockdown measures (including a potential curfew) on the table, this could spell some pretty dark times for the people of Toronto over the next few months.

Lead photo by

Nicoli OZ Mathews

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