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11 Jan 2013
It's taken me awhile, but, using the Environment Canada data, I went through every January in Toronto back to 1870 and discovered some interesting trends.
Most notably, it would appear that January in the first two decades of the 20th century in Toronto were rather mild in Toronto. Here is the data, with the year on the left, and the mean temperature in degrees celcius on the right:
January 1900: -3.4C
Now look at the last three decades. It should be noted that the above were recorded in downtown Toronto, while the ones below were recorded at Toronto Pearson airport.
Note how in the first decade of the 20th century,the only exceptionally cold January was 1904. The others were roughly the same as the Januaries of the 1990s, with January 1906 being just as much of a torch as January 1990. So much for our great-grandparents facing bitter cold winters the likes of which we have never seen. Now look at how mild most of the Januaries of the 1910s were. Many of them were virtual blowtorches, including January 1913, 1914, 1916 and 1919. Only January 1912 and 1918 were frigid.
Now look at the late 20th/early 21st century. The Januarys of the 1980s were almost colder than those of the 1900s, with January 1981 and 1982 easily surpassing all of them. As for the 1990s, note how 1994 stands out like a sore thumb. It is the coldest January ever recorded at Toronto Pearson airport and - get this- the coldest January recorded in Toronto since at least 1870!!
Finally, look at how in the first decade of this century, the Januaries have slowly trending colder, despite the torches of 2002 and 2006. 2003-2005 saw three cold Januaries in a row, easily the equal of those in the first decade of the 20th century. This decade started out decently cold, with only last January being a torch.
All-in-all, it would appear that the Januaries of today are not significantly warmer than those of our grandparents and great-grandparents. I read in a book on Toronto once that "anyone older than 50 can remember a time when the harbour froze regularly and people could skate to the Toronto Islands". Judging from what I've seen in the data (and I've only included a fraction of it in this post) I can't see how it is possible that the harbour regularly froze. If anything, the Januaries of the first two decades of the twentieth century were milder than what we've been experiencing. Granted, one does have to take into effect the different recording stations, with the early twentieth century readings being taken in a downtown location as opposed to the airport.
31 Jan 2012
Seriously, what a ridiculous article this is. Talk about amnesia. What about the winters of 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. This is all hyped up nonsense in my opinion.
28 Jan 2012
I posted this in the American weather forums and thought I'd share it here too.
This winter has been a bust in Toronto thus far, no doubt about it. This January has been a torch. However, many in the media would be surprised to learn just when our warmest Januaries of the past century were. I should point out here that prior to 1937, the data is from downtown Toronto, which would obviously be warmer that the suburban airport. However, it would make sense that temperature means have been warming at Toronto's pearson airport given the city has encroached on it and cities create their own heat. Back in the 40s and 50s, it was out in the countryside.
year:mean temperature snowfall
1) January 1932 1.9C 38.8cm
2) January 1933 0.9C 5.3cm
3) January 2006 0.2C 7.8cm
4) January 1913 -0.3C 29.5cm
5) January 1937/2002 -0.5C 6.3cm (1937) 31.4cm(2002)
6) January 1906 -0.6C 10.9cm
7) January 1990 -0.8C 12.8cm
8) January 1916 -1.0C 8.1cm
9) January 1950 -1.8C 36.7cm
10) January 1894/2008 - 2.1C 18.0cm (1894) 22.8cm (2008)
It should be noted that January 1988 only saw 4.8cm of snow fall at Toronto's perason airport, meaning this January will not be the airport's least snowy.
It's intriguing to see so many warm winters a century ago when old photographs would seem to imply that there was more skating on rivers and ponds back then. Many in Toronto say you could skae to Toronto island at one point from the mainland. Wouldn't have wanted to try that during some of the above Januaries!
Finally, it's astounding how the two warmest Januaries were back-to back. People back then must have wondered what had happened to winter...sort of like people this year!
6 Jan 2009
It looks to turn bitterly cold next week. How cold do people here think it will get? Perhaps Toronto will see a high around -15 while Ottawa and Montreal see a high in the minus 20s? One of the greatest cold waves I can remember was in January 1994. That winter Ottawa saw a high of -26!
24 Apr 2013 - 20:15
23 Dec 2012 - 11:28
30 Jan 2011 - 15:19
27 Jan 2011 - 23:33
29 Dec 2010 - 20:26
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