Ontario, Quebec on verge of the worst cold front in 30 years

The first snowfall of the season covered the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada with 5-10cm of snow on November 16, 2018. (Photo by Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto)

Bone-chilling cold is about to hit Canadians in record-breaking fashion.

Extremely low temperatures are creeping up from the Prairies into the Maritimes, with wind chills as low as -50 C in the territories, according to The Weather Network.

“Right now we have a weather pattern that’s delivering a cold arctic air into Central and Eastern Canada and we think that pattern will continue for the rest of this month and even into parts of December,” Bob Smerbeck, senior meteorologist  with AccuWeather told Yahoo Canada News.


Atlantic Canada has experienced a stormy start to the winter season and unfortunately, it’s expected to continue for the rest of the season.

“There will be some big winter storms that we expect for Atlantic Canada, the pattern’s already setup there…a couple big storms we’re dealing with today and then another one for Thursday and Thursday night,” Smerbeck said. “You’re going to have the cold air in place in Eastern Canada and we’re going to have an active storm track through parts of the Eastern U.S., up the East Coast into Atlantic Canada,”

According to the Weather Network,  Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador has already seen 162 cm of snow this season, smashing the previous snowfall record by over 10 cm.

There are a number of winter storm warnings in place in Newfoundland and Labrador. According to Environment Canada, some areas will see up to 15 cm of snow by Thursday, with strong winds up to 100km/h.

Moving into Nova Scotia, snow squalls are expected to bring blowing snow with wind gusts up to 80 km/h in some areas on Thursday, into Friday, with Prince Edward Island expected to see the same conditions.

Although there aren’t any weather alerts for New Brunswick, the province is expected to see temperatures below -11 C tonight, extending close to -20 C in the evening, with flurries in the forecast for Thursday across the area.

Ontario and Quebec

The most populous areas of Ontario and Quebec will meet or break records over the next 24 to 36 hours with “bitter cold air” hitting the provinces.

According to Smerbeck, AccuWeather is expecting Toronto to see low temperature Wednesday night hitting -12 C, tying the record low temperature in 1989. Temperatures during the day on Thursday will be around -5 C, cooling down to -9 C Thursday evening.

The Ottawa region will experience -16 C temperatures, breaking a record from 1972 of -14 C. The record breaking trend will continue into Thursday evening, reaching -19 C, three degrees colder than the 1972 record for that day.

Moving into Quebec, Smerbeck said Montreal is also looking to break the same 46-year-old record, with -15 C expected Wednesday night, exceeding the -14 C record. Thursday night will be -16 C in the city, two degree colder than the record.

Forecasters have been predicting a possible warm up in Southern Canada, primarily around Ontario and Quebec, but it looks like temperatures will still remain quite cold.

“The extreme you’re going to have for the next couple of days will definitely get on out but it’s still going to be below average temperature throughout the rest of this month and to the start of December,” Smerbeck said.

According to Environment Canada, southern Ontario around Lake Huron will see snowfall amounts up to 15 cm Wednesday evening, while northwestern regions of Quebec will see 5 to 10 cm of blowing snow with winds up to 80 km/h.

Prairies & B.C.

Moving west, the Prairies are battling between the more mild temperatures in the west and the cold air pushing through Eastern Canada.

“We think the mild air is going to be more locked in over Western Canada,” Smerbeck said.  “There will be times when that warmth extends eastward across the Prairies into southern Ontario but just when it starts to warm up a little, then it’ll get cutoff at the pass and then the heat will get kicked back westward.”

According to The Weather Network,  northern Manitoba will see temperatures close to -40 C, with scattered flurries expected Thursday and Friday.

“I think the eastern Prairies has the best chance of having sustained cold,” Smerbeck said. “They’ll be in that northwest flow of the jet stream, so any arctic air that’s over the Northwest Territories will come down through the eastern Prairies and then on its way into Eastern Canada.”

Much of southern Saskatchewan will see temperatures hovering just below 0 C into Wednesday evening, moving slightly above 0 C on Thursday. But there is also a fog advisory in place for some areas in the southern portion of the province for Wednesday. The most northern areas in Saskatchewan are expected to see temperatures around -15 C Wednesday evening, with a chance of snow into Thursday.

Slightly farther west, much of Alberta won’t see temperatures as extreme due to its proximity to the milder Pacific air through the west. Some areas in Alberta will see temperatures close to the mid-teens over the next 24 hours while other areas, particularly northern Alberta, will see temperatures as low as -15 C.

British Columbia, much like the western Prairies, is expected to have a more mild and dry winter season this time around.

“There’s going to be some decent snow events into the mountains of southwest Canada into the early part of the winter,” Smerbeck said. “But then we think high pressure’s going to build more and it’s going to dry out and…remain mild for much of British Columbia, Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan.

Currently, temperatures around Vancouver are expected to stay between 5 C and 10 C for the next week, with rain forecasted during that time period as well. Temperatures fall into the negatives and rain transitions into snow moving more north in the province.

Smerbeck also anticipates that the storm track will shift up into northern B.C. as we get into the heart of the winter.