A brief respite from the cold is coming, but beware, Hamilton — this chilling, bitter winter Southern Ontario is suffering through isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, Environment Canada says.

Temperatures in January have been about – 4 C colder than average, which is very frigid for a sustained period, says Dave Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada. The extended cold is really starting to get to people, he told CBC Hamilton.

“I think that’s really what’s driving that weather rage,” he said. “It’s really a throwback to winters of the past.”

There have been 30 days of below – 10 C temperatures already this winter, compared to nine last year. Mild days have been few and far between, and without some interludes between intense cold, this winter seems even more unbearable, Phillips says.

And it’s not going anywhere — Environment Canada’s models for February and beyond are calling for more extended periods of below average temperatures in Hamilton. “It’s not going to go away,” Phillips said. “What you see is what you’re going to get.”

'It’s not going to go away, and mother nature doesn’t feel sorry for us.' - Meteorologist Dave Phillips on our frigid winter

Temperatures will improve on Thursday, but icy winds will also be quite gusty, says CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland. Blowing and drifting snow could be an issue for drivers, especially in Hamilton’s rural areas.

“The system ushering in the milder air will also bring snow to the region on Thursday evening,” he said. “Milder air sticks with us into the weekend but there is the potential for either wet snow or even a rain/snow mix for Saturday.”

The forecasted high in Hamilton on Wednesday is - 12 C, signaling a relative warm up, Phillips says. “Now, when I say warm up, it’s not muscle shirt and tank top weather,” he laughed.

This month’s cold has been so intense that the Great Lakes are sitting under the largest cover of ice in 20 years. The early winter polar vortex that brought in freezing temperatures throughout eastern North America has put an ice cover over about 52 per cent of the Great Lakes.

Ice formation on the Great Lakes typically peaks by mid-March. At this point last year, there was only about 12 per cent ice coverage on the lakes. The last time the lakes had this much ice cover this early in the year was during the 1993–1994 winter season.

Still, there’s little Hamiltonians can do at this point but grin and bear it, Phillips says. “It’s not going to go away, and mother nature doesn’t feel sorry for us,” he said.

“But it is wearing us out. It’s relentless.”