extreme cold weather alert

Extreme cold alert issued as Toronto about to get blasted with polar chill

The official end of winter is just a few weeks away, but Toronto will have to hold on a bit longer for the true arrival of springlike weather as thermometers in the city are about to plummet, triggering yet another extreme cold weather alert (ECWA) Wednesday morning.

Toronto woke up to a relatively balmy -1 C on Wednesday, Environment Canada forecasting temperatures to climb to a high of 2 C before dropping to -11 C overnight, feeling like -19 C with the wind chill. Thursday morning will feel just as cold, with a low of -12 C, feeling like -19 C.

Whenever temperatures are forecasted to drop to -15 C or lower, or wind chill values -20 C or colder, the city's Medical Officer of Health automatically issues an ECWA. Wednesday's forecast is just above this threshold, but the city is taking a cautious approach and issuing the alert anyway.

An ECWA typically triggers the automatic activation of the city's emergency warming centres. Under normal circumstances, these facilities open at 7 p.m. and are closed at noon on the day an alert is terminated, though due to the unusually ferocious winter, they have been open continuously since Jan. 7.

Warming centres are located at 129 Peter St., 5800 Yonge St., the Better Living Centre at Exhibition Place, and the Scarborough Civic Centre at 150 Borough Dr., made available for those without easy access to warm indoor spaces.

Streets to Homes outreach teams have also been active since early January, helping people experiencing homelessness but encouraging them to seek shelter indoors, as well as handing out cold-weather supplies like blankets, sleeping bags, and winter clothing.

If you're entirely over all of these frigid days, relief is on the way.

While the city says that the ECWA will remain in effect until further notice, Environment Canada predicts an upward creep in temperatures into the weekend, projected to reach a high of 13 C by Sunday.

If you count wind chill, that's a 32-degree swing in just three days, though Sunday will also be a rainy day, so maybe hold off on those outdoor plans.

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