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Toronto breaks 86-year temperature record as unseasonable warmth hits

Unseasonal heat swept across parts of Ontario on Friday, breaking daily temperature records in several cities.

The temperature cracked 11 C by 10 a.m. at Toronto Pearson International Airport, busting a daily record set on the same day in 1938, when it reached a high of 10.6 C.

Daily temperature records have fallen across Canada this winter, reflecting what forecasters had warned would be a warmer winter due to a strong El Niño climate pattern paired with the effects of human-caused climate change.

“We have seen warm temperatures like this in the past in February,” said Peter Kimbell, an Ottawa-based warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada. 

“But the thing is, it’s continuing a trend of very warm temperatures all winter long.”

It was nearly five degrees warmer than average in December and 3.4 degrees above average last month in Toronto, Kimbell said. 

At the airport in London, the temperature hit 12 C by noon on Friday, surpassing a record set last year, according to Environment Weather data going back to 1941.

Ottawa hit 7.7 C at 1 p.m. Friday, slightly above a daily record Kimbell said was set in 1990.

In sunny spots, the day could feel five or six degrees warmer than reported, as temperatures are measured in the shade, says David Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment Canada.

“I wouldn’t be surprised [if] we’ll see muscle shirts and tank tops out there today,” he said.

Although Friday’s temperatures are more common for spring, Phillips says models suggest the second half of February will be more seasonable.

The unseasonable warmth across Canada has had far-reaching effects.

Some First Nations in Manitoba and northern Ontario declared states of emergency this week due to impassable winter roads, which communities depend on for deliveries of fuel, food supplies and construction materials.

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