Thursday may be Toronto's hottest day ever
(Hajop Ohannessian of Toronto practices yoga along the shore of Lake Ontario on Tuesday. With temperatures reaching the upper 30s many Torontonians are heading to the water for some hot weather relief. TARA WALTON/TORONTO STAR)
Keep your fan on high and your water bottle handy: Thursday could be Toronto’s hottest day ever.
The temperature is expected to reach a scorching 38 C. Toronto has only been that hot once, when it reached 38.3 C on August 25, 1948 according to measurements at Pearson airport.
Factor in the humidex and Thursday will feel like somewhere in the mid to high 40s.
If it doesn’t quite beat 38.3, Thursday could still be the hottest July day on record, beating out the 37.6 C high on July 7, 1988. Temperature records at Pearson have been kept since 1937.
Friday is projected to cool down to a more reasonable 32 C, but highs above 30 C are forecast through the weekend.
“We’re talking about excruciating temperatures,” said David Phillips, a senior climatologist at Environment Canada. “It’s very unusual.”
Overall, nine days this month have reached temperatures higher than 30 C. “We’ve already had a year’s worth of days above 30,” Phillips said.
The extreme heat is caused by a high-pressure system sitting over the city that’s warding off weather and keeping the jet stream well to the north, Phillips said.
The smog that sometimes accompanies hot weather is nowhere to be seen, though. The city’s only had one smog day this summer. In 2005 — a similar year temperature-wise — there were 20 by this time, Phillips said.
There have been fewer smog days partly because of improved air quality, said Kate Jordan, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Environment.
In the past eight years, the province has seen reductions in fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide — the two main ingredients in smog, Jordan said.
Reflecting the soaring temperatures, city officials expect to issue an extreme heat alert Wednesday which will likely last until Sunday.
Dr. David McKeown, the city’s medical officer of health, said elderly people, those with medical conditions and isolated people without air conditioning are most at risk during prolonged hot periods.
“I am asking everyone, including landlords, to check on those at risk,” he said.
If an extreme heat alert is called, Toronto Public Health will open seven cooling centres across the city. Some city pools may extend their operating hours.
EMS chief Paul Raftis said it’s important for people to drink water, avoid too much outside activity between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., and check up on family and friends for symptoms of dehydration.
The coroner’s office reported six deaths from heat-related causes last year in Toronto. But Dr. McKeown said statistical analysis shows an average of about 120 deaths per year from heat-related causes.
No such deaths have been reported this year.
Those in need of assistance can call the Canadian Red Cross heat information line at 416-480-2615, between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
— Michael Woods, with files from Amanda Kwan