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Unseasonable warmth in Toronto as temperatures hit 20 C

Toronto basked in sunshine and spring-like temperatures on Wednesday, with many residents stepping out to enjoy the unseasonable warmth in parks and on patios, as the city saw near-record high temperatures.

Environment Canada said temperatures climbed in Toronto to 20 C at around 2 p.m. nearing the highest temperature on the books for March 13 in the city, which was 21.4 C in 1990.

The city’s downtown core was bustling around lunch time. Some enjoyed lunch on park benches, others relaxed on grassy patches and several took their dogs out for midday walks in the sunshine.

In one park, people were seen strolling around without coats, children flocked to a playground and one man went for a stroll in khaki shorts.

Salma Jal said she left her downtown Toronto office to eat her lunch on a patio because she wanted to take advantage of the warm weather.

“I checked, it was warm enough to be outside,” she said. “I prefer to sit on the terrace.”

Jal said she has found the winter unusually mild in Toronto this year, a situation that comes with advantages but has left her with some qualms.

“This is my fourth winter in Canada and it was the warmest,” she said. “Day-to-day, it makes it easier. But it is very concerning because we’re in March, like three years ago at this very same day, it was snowing.”

Environment Canada meteorologist Steven Flisfeder said Toronto and many other areas in Ontario have seen well-above seasonal temperature in the last few days.

“We should be seeing temperatures, daytime highs of about 5 C. So, we’re seeing almost 15 C above normal for this time of year,” he said.

“It’s not unheard of. We have seen temperatures like this in the past on occasion. Having a stretch of temperatures this warm is a little bit more rare.”

Flisfeder said a “push of warm, moist air” from the southern United States is contributing to the current warmth.

“It’s something that we see from time to time.” he said.

“In addition to that, we’ve also had fairly sunny skies and we’re getting to the time of year where the sun is pretty intense and helps to warm the atmosphere as well.”

He said the warmth is reaching across most of Ontario.

“It’s pretty much the entirety of Ontario has been feeling the warm air mass,” he said.

“We’ve seen a few temperature records broken across northern Ontario this week, and certainly southwestern Ontario the past few days, similar to Toronto, has been seeing temperatures in the teens to low 20s.”

Toronto has seen unseasonably spring-like temperatures and sunshine recently.

The city saw record-breaking warmth last week when temperatures hit 14 C on March 4, surpassing the highest temperature on record for that day, which was 13.3 C in 1974.

Flisfeder said temperatures are expected to moderate back towards the average for this time of year in the coming days.

– with files from Fakiha Baig.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 13, 2024.