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Extreme cold in Toronto smashes 57-year-old temperature record

The bone-chilling cold settled over Toronto smashed a nearly 57-year-old temperature record, Environment Canada said Thursday, and while a slight warming may be coming, it will be cold well into the new year.

Extreme cold weather warning has been cancelled, but temperatures remain frigid

Temperatures observed at Toronto's Pearson International Airport bottomed out at -22 C this morning. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The bone-chilling cold settled over Toronto smashed a nearly 57-year-old temperature record, Environment Canada said Thursday, and while a slight warming may be coming, it will be cold well into the new year. 

Temperatures observed at Toronto's Pearson International Airport bottomed out at -22 C Thursday morning. The previous record for this date was set in 1960, when it hit -18.9 C. 

An extreme cold weather alert was in effect for the Greater Toronto Area and indeed much of Ontario, though it was cancelled for the city as of noon on Thursday, according to Environment Canada. 

Meanwhile, almost all cities in Canada are experiencing wintry weather. 
While temperatures will rise slightly throughout the day, it will still be frigid in the city with a high of -13 C. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

"It's basically all across the country that the cold weather is entrenched, and it's not going away quickly," said Peter Kimbell, warning preparedness meteorologist at Environment Canada.

In this part of the province, extreme cold alerts are issued when wind chill factor approaches -30 or lower. A brief respite came Thursday afternoon, but it will remain cold with temperatures hovering between -8 and -10 C for a few days after. However temperatures will start to feel like -30 again by late Tuesday or Wednesday next week.

"In Ontario we don't see an end to this cold until at least the end of the first week of January," Kimbell said. 

Watch your pipes

Toronto Water says several days of deep freeze may cause pipes to burst.

Suggestions for reducing the chances of a burst include:

  • Leaving a tap slightly open for a very thin stream of water.
  • Insulating pipes that are outside or exposed to an uninsulated wall with foam pipe covers.
  • Opening kitchen, bathroom and laundry cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • Turning off the main valve and opening the taps to drain water if leaving for a lengthy stretch. 

To thaw frozen pipes, the city recommends:

  • Turning on a tap in the basement, preferably the cold water faucet in the laundry room.
  • Using a blow dryer to warm the frozen pipe for one to two hours.
  • Wrapping a warm towel around a frozen pipe.
  • Patience — the thawing process could take up to six hours depending on the extent of freezing.