December warmest on record across province, including Toronto

To the surprise of absolutely no one, December was the warmest on record for much of Ontario, including Toronto, Environment Canada said Friday.

Toronto beat its previous record for mean temperature in December by 2 C

Gary Laughlin golfs in a Santa hat at Lionhead Golf & Country Club in Brampton, Ont., on Wednesday, December 23, 2015. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

To the surprise of absolutely no one, December was the warmest on record for much of Ontario, including Toronto, Environment Canada said Friday.

In a weather summary, the federal agency said that Toronto beat its previous record for mean temperature for December by two degrees. The month was six degrees milder than normal, the summary said.

In Toronto, the mean temperature for December was 5.1 C, smashing the old record of 3.2 C, set in 2001.

"Scorching. Balmy. Or just plain mild. However you want to describe it, 2015 ended on an extraordinarily mild note," the summary read.

"The month of December was by far the warmest December on record across virtually the entire province."

Last year was a warm one overall across the Greater Toronto Area, despite a chilly start in January through March, when the monthly average for daily highs and lows trended below normal, said CBC meteorologist Colette Kennedy.

"Otherwise we had seven months where they trended above average for highs and nine months where they trended above average for lows," she said, noting that December's average monthly high was 7.5 C.

Winter weather is coming

On Dec. 11, Toronto broke a 36-year-old temperature record with a daytime high of 14 C.

Despite the data, winter appears to be finally settling in. After Tuesday's blast of snow and freezing rain, temperatures are expected to plummet to -10 C on Monday, but it could feel like -15 C or -20 C with the wind chill.

"It should only last a few days and then we will get back to normal," Kennedy said. "However, mid-month I see the models pulling some very cold arctic air our way longer term."

The good news? This being a strong El Nino year, Toronto shouldn't have the same bitterly cold start to the year like in 2015, she said.

Here's a list of some of the other cities that set new temperature records last month:

  • Toronto Pearson Airport – New record of 4.1 C, beating the old record of 1.9 C, set in 2006.
  • Hamilton – New record of 3.7 C, beating the old record of 1.6 C, set in 2006.
  • St. Catharines – New record of 5.0 C, beating the old record of 3.3 C, set in 2006.
  • Ottawa – New record of 1.2 C, beating the old record of -1.4 C, set in 2001.
  • Sault Ste Marie – New record of 0.5 C, beating the old record of -1.2 C set in 1994 and 2001.

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