Windy, cold weather in forecast with no relief from deep freeze until Monday

It's going to be windy and cold this weekend with little relief from the deep freeze until Monday.

City says Toronto remains under an extreme cold weather alert until further notice

Stay warm by wearing layers, says Environment Canada. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

It's going to be windy and cold this weekend with little relief from the deep freeze until Monday.

Toronto continued to be under an extreme cold weather alert on Saturday and officials urged residents to stay warm by wearing layers of clothes.

Freezing temperatures, brisk winds

Environment Canada says the forecast on Saturday night and early Sunday calls for freezing temperatures in the double digits, brisk winds with gusts of up to 50 kilometres per hour, and high windchill values.

"It's pretty chilly out there today but it's going to be chillier tonight," Arnold Ashton, a Toronto-based severe weather meteorologist for Environment Canada, said Saturday afternoon. 

Snow is in the forecast for Tuesday with between two to four centimetres expected to fall before it turns to rain and melts.

On Saturday night, the low is forecast to be –12 C and the windchill is forecast to dip as low as –23 C overnight. The high on Sunday is forecast to be only –9 C, while the low is forecast to be –11 C.

Ashton said winds, coming from the north and northwest, could be on the brisk side on Saturday night. "That's going to put that extra bite in the air," he said.

He urged Toronto residents to bundle up, leaving as little skin exposed as possible.

"It doesn't matter what you look like as long as you are warm."

Warmer weather on the way

Warmer weather, however, is on the way. The winds are expected to ease on Sunday night. Temperatures are expected to rise on Monday, when the high will be –3 C. The temperature is expected to be moderate for the rest of the week.
Toronto remains under an extreme cold weather alert. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

Snow is expected on Tuesday, with between two to four centimetres expected to fall before it turns to rain.

Ashton said the rain is expected to melt most of the snow. There is no freezing rain in the immediate forecast.

Toronto, meanwhile, is under the extreme cold weather alert until further notice.

Lenore Bromley, spokesperson for Toronto Public Health, said the current alert was issued on Thursday.

The city issues extreme cold weather alerts when the temperature is forecast to reach –15 C or colder, or when the wind chill is forecast to reach –20 or colder. 

"Exposure to cold weather can be harmful to your health," Toronto Public Health said in a news release.

"Hypothermia occurs when the body's core temperature drops below 35°C and can have severe consequences, including organ failure and death. Frostbite can also occur in cold weather when skin freezes and in severe cases can lead to amputation when deeper tissues freeze."

The city says people most at risk of cold-related illness are the homeless, people who are underhoused, outdoor workers, those with a pre-existing heart condition or respiratory illness, the elderly, infants and young children. 

Extreme cold weather alerts activate city services aimed at getting and keeping vulnerable residents inside. The services include: additional shelter beds, notification to community agencies to relax any service restrictions, transit tokens made available at some drop-ins, and overnight street outreach. 

During an extreme cold weather alert, members of the public are encouraged to:

  • Check the weather report before going outside;
  • Dress in layers, making sure your outer layer is windproof, and cover exposed skin;
  • Wear a hat, warm mittens or gloves, and warm boots. 
  • Stay dry. Your risk of hypothermia is much greater if you are wet.
  • Choose wool or synthetic fabrics for your clothes instead of cotton, because cotton stops keeping you warm once it gets wet.
  • Seek shelter if you normally spend long periods outside. Depending on the wind chill, exposed skin can freeze in minutes. 
  • Drink warm fluids, other than alcohol. 
  • Warm up by taking regular breaks in heated buildings when enjoying winter activities outside. 
  • Consider rescheduling outdoor activities, or limiting time outdoors, during colder temperatures, especially if it's windy. 
  • Heat your home to at least 21ºC if infants or elderly people are present.
  • Call or visit vulnerable friends, neighbours and family to ensure they are not experiencing any difficulties related to the weather.