Another Hamilton temperature record is under threat as the city’s bout of extreme cold temperatures continues, with lows of below –20 C in store for the beginning of the week. 

Hamilton remains under a cold weather alert:

  • City officials ask anyone who sees a person in need of shelter to call the Salvation Army at 905-527-1444 ext 0. 

Environment Canada’s forecast for the city calls for a low of –24 C on Tuesday. The previous extreme cold temperature for Jan. 28 at Hamilton International Airport’s weather station, which began collecting climate data in 1959, is –24.2 C, registered on that day in 2005.

If Tuesday beats the nine-year-old benchmark, it will represent at least the third cold temperature record to have been broken in January.

So far this month, Hamilton had the coldest Jan. 3 and Jan. 7 on record.

On the morning of Friday, Jan. 3, temperatures dipped to –21.8 C, edging out the previous record by 0.2 C.

Four days later, the temperature fell even further, to –24 C. It smashed the previous extreme low for Jan. 7, recorded in 1968, by a full 4 C.

Tuesday may also treat Hamilton to its coldest temperature in almost five years. The last time the mercury dropped below –24 C was on Feb. 5, 2009.

But even if readings ebb pass the –25 C mark, they’re extremely unlikely to surpass city’s all-time record low. On Jan. 16, 2004, temperatures bottomed out at –30 C, the coldest reading in Hamilton since at least 1960.

And though chillier than the average January, this month has been far from the coldest. As of Jan. 25, the mean temperature for the month stood at –8.2 C. The city experienced its two frostiest Januarys on record in 1977 and 1994, months that saw average temperatures of –11.8 C and –11.7 C, respectively.  

Cold alert continues

Hamilton has been under a cold weather alert since Jan. 20. In general, the city’s medical officer of health issues the alert whenever temperatures reach, or are expected to drop below, –15 C or –20 C with the wind chill.

The deep cold this month led to water main breaks, disrupted garbage collection and has prompted the city to issue residents a list of tips on how to prevent household pipes from freezing.

James Street frost

Extreme low temperatures in early January busted water mains, disrupted garbage collection and, of course, frosted windows across the city. (John Rieti/CBC)

Officials also ask anyone who sees a person in need of shelter to call the Salvation Army at 905-527-1444 ext 0.

Hamilton, like much of southern Ontario, has battled more than one bout of unseasonably cold temperatures this month.

“In the winters, there’s always a big area of low pressure sitting over Hudson Bay,” explained Environment Canada meteorologist Ria Alsen. “What has happened is that, when the winds are right, all of the cold air gets pushed over southern Ontario.”

January has brought the region a string of “little low pressure systems that don’t do a lot to bring warm weather back,” Alsen said.  

However, Hamilton residents can expect some relief from the extreme cold later in the week. Lows of –10 C are in the forecast for both Thursday and Friday. 

City of Hamilton's tips on how to prevents household pipes from freezing:

  • Disconnect and drain all outdoor hoses.
  • Shut off and drain all outdoor faucets.
  • Insulate all exposed outside water pipes with specially designed foam pipe covers available at building supply or home improvement stores.
  • Seal air leaks throughout your home and garage.
  • Let a cold water faucet run a minimal amount of water on nights when the temperature is below freezing to prevent service line freeze-up.
  • Open kitchen, bathroom and laundry cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.