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Coldest air in a year floods into southern Ontario

The Weather Network logo The Weather Network 2019-01-10 The Weather Network
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The lake-effect snow that punished the traditional snow-belt regions of Ontario this week will slowly wind down on Thursday, although travel conditions could remain dangerous under the most persistent snow bands. That's while some of the coldest weather of the season arrives, prompting Toronto Public Health to issue an extreme cold weather alert. More on the lingering snow threat, plus a look at the BITTER wind chills on our doorstep, below.

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a person wearing a costume © Provided by Pelmorex Media Inc. WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS

  • Snow squalls from Lake Huron persist through Thursday prompting a winter weather travel advisory for parts of the southwest
  • Coldest weather of the season so far arrives Thursday as wind chills dip into the -20s and 30s
  • A few more rounds of milder air ahead before winter pattern locks in officially
  • Stay up-to-date with all weather ALERTS, here

WINTER WEATHER TRAVEL ADVISORY

Relatively above-seasonal temperatures in December, and even some shots of above-zero daytime highs in January, have left the Great Lakes largely unfrozen -- prime conditions for lake effect snow, sparked by icy winds blowing over relatively warmer lake waters.

The traditional snow belts inland of the Huron shores and southern Georgian Bay took a beating from snow squalls on Wednesday as parts of southwestern Ontario continue to deal with some decent lake-effect snow through the day on Thursday.

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"Lake effect flurries will slowly weaken today and before ending overnight tonight," says Environment Canada in a winter weather travel advisory for the region. "The heaviest bands are coming onshore between Bayfield and Kettle Point." 

Between 5 to 10 cm are possible under the most persistent bands.

WATCH BELOW: ARCTIC AIR RETURNS, COLDEST SINCE LAST JANUARY

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Much of Canada. with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador, have experienced an above seasonal start to 2019, but that trend will come to an end this weekend as a developing northwest flow holds steady. That'll help to open the "gateway" to the colder air sitting in the north. 

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"The coldest air of the season will be arriving for some, bringing with it wind chills in the -30s for eastern and central Ontario through the overnights this weekend," says Weather Network meteorologist Kelly Sonnenburg.

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High pressure from the arctic will pass over the province this weekend, ushering in the cold air, but also keeping the region in a benign weather pattern with no significant storms expected. 

"This cold for most isn't expected to be record breaking as technically we are coming up to the coldest climate normals of the year," Sonnenburg says. "But as for this season, it's been a while since we've felt temperatures this cold so it will be a shock to the system."

An extreme cold weather alert was issued for the city of Toronto early Thursday with wind chills expected to dip to -20 overnight into Friday morning.

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Temperatures recover to near seasonal values by early next week, but the battle between mild Pacific air and arctic air remains.

"During next week, mild Pacific air will once again spread across western and central Canada, however, at the same time, arctic air will build around Hudson Bay and that will attempt to sink south into our region," says Dr. Doug Gillham, another meteorologist at The Weather Network. "There is still some uncertainty as to which air mass will win out."

And while there will likely be a day or two of somewhat milder weather, the pattern is currently in the midst of a transition into a more consistently cold pattern, which is expected to lock into place for the end of January and continue for February and into March.

"We still expect an extended period of frigid weather this winter," warns Gillham. 

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