Get ready for the deep freeze, Ontario. While it won’t last very long, the intense cold spilling across the province will pose a threat to health and safety of anyone outdoors for too long without proper protection.
Readings will dive well below -20°C for almost everyone by Saturday morning, with temperatures flirting with -30°C in eastern Ontario and even colder lows likely across northern parts of the province.
Actual air temperatures this cold are bad enough, but windy conditions behind the front will make for even colder wind chill values, leading to a high risk for frostbite on exposed skin within minutes for many communities.
The Arctic front responsible for this blast of cold air roared through Ontario through the day Thursday, bringing gusty winds and a burst of snow ahead of the sharp drop in temperatures.
Conditions will keep getting colder as we head into Friday.
Friday will feature the worst of the cold across Ontario. The high in Toronto will reach about -15°C, which will seem balmy compared to the -25°C high expected over in Ottawa. Overnight temperatures will dip to -22°C in Toronto and -29°C in Ottawa.
For some perspective on how unusually cold this will be, the average high and low in Toronto is 0°C and -5°C, respectively, with these seasonal benchmarks coming in at -3°C and -12°C in Ottawa.
Gusty winds create dangerous conditions and snow squalls
It’s not just the actual air temperature we have to watch out for—it’s also the winds. Breezy conditions behind the front will make the cold feel even colder.
Any wind on a frigid day makes it even more dangerous to be outside without proper protection.
Human skin builds up a thin layer of warm air just above the surface that provides temporary protection from damaging cold temperatures. When the wind blows, it shears away that protective layer of warmth and cools off the skin even faster.
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This is why the “feels like” value is so important—wind makes it feel even colder to your body, allowing frostbite and hypothermia to set in even more quickly than it would if the wind wasn’t blowing.
Gusty winds blowing that Arctic air into Ontario will make the feels-like value plunge into the -30s and even approach -40, especially in eastern Ontario. Wind chill values this cold will make it dangerous to spend more than a brief moment outside without running the risk of injuring unprotected skin.
The combination of cold air and gusty winds will also lead to snow squalls blowing off Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. Snow squalls will last through Friday and into Saturday before diminishing as a clipper moves into the region.
These squalls will grow quite heavy in spots. The combination of heavy snow and gusty winds will lead to reduced visibility and periods of blowing and drifting snow.
Stay with The Weather Network as we track the dangerous cold across Ontario.