toronto future heat weather

Here's how hot Toronto is expected to be by the 2050s

A study from the University of Waterloo and Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation is adding to concerns that we're all on the way to being cooked alive by rising global temperatures, shedding light on what Toronto and other Canadian cities have in store if a course correction does not occur soon.

Recent years had Toronto see an average number in the low teens of days where the temperature hits or rises above 30 C. Based on the study's high-carbon prediction, Toronto is expected to see an average of 55 of these days per year in the period from 2051-2080.

Imagine a nearly two-month stretch with blistering-hot temperatures bad enough to cause hospitalization and even death. Every single year.

And if you think that's a terrifying prediction for Toronto, one only has to look at nearby municipalities to see even scarier forecasts.

Hamilton, Niagara Falls, Brantford, London, and Ottawa all top Toronto's predictions among the ten hottest (in the literal sense) Canadian cities. But the worst in all of Canada was Windsor, with Ontario's very own Detroit Jr. expected to see 78.8 days in the 30+ zone in the latter half of the century.

But it's the projections for the warmest maximum temperatures that will really have the fear set in for anyone uncomfortable on hot days. Air temperatures regularly reaching as high as 38.4 C are what could await Toronto in the 2050s and beyond, and that does not factor in humidex values.

The average Toronto heat wave during the period from 1976 to 2005 lasted between two and four days, but future generations could have to contend with sizzling stretches averaging at eight days if the country continues on the current path.

People in urban centres like Toronto face the highest risks from extreme heat, the urban-heat-island effect caused by human-made surfaces like asphalt and roofing reflecting back heat and causing significant heat differences between cities and surrounding rural areas.

It can be up to 15 degrees hotter in a city than in rural surroundings during the daytime, and up to 12 degrees warmer at night.

Those vulnerable to heat and without access to air-conditioned spaces are the most obvious group at risk, but heat also poses significant challenges for electrical distribution systems when demand peaks during heat events, causing outages that can exacerbate the danger.

The study underscores various readily-available "passive cooling" tools city builders can use to lessen the impacts of the urban heat island effect, from green roof technology to building materials with better heat absorption properties.

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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