Andrea Stockton and Jill Colton, staff writers
July 23, 2011 — The cliche, 'so hot you could fry an egg' somewhat applied to the weather across southern Ontario and southern Quebec Thursday.
To say it was a scorcher of a day would be an understatement. Over a dozen daytime heat records were broken across southern Ontario and southern Quebec.
Although the tropical-like air mass didn't help break the all-time temperature record at Pearson Airport (38.3°C), the city still shot up to a staggering 37.9°C breaking a couple of records for the month of July.
The city of Toronto upgraded the heat alert status to an extreme heat alert Wednesday morning. Cooling centres were opened across the city to help provide some relief.
The soupy conditions and searing heat also made history for the Toronto Rogers Centre. Officals closed the dome roof and turned the air conditioning on for Blue Jay fans attending the game Thursday afternoon. This is the first time ever that the dome has been shut due to extreme heat.
The Woodbine race track however, was forced to cancel its live thoroughbred racing card. Officials say the races were cancelled in the best interest and safety of the horses and participants.
Even Toronto's trees are struggling under the oppressive conditions. Only 4.4 mm of rain has fallen in July -- the monthly average is around 74.4 mm. Many of the newly planted trees are dying from lack of water.
Although temperatures weren't as stifling on Friday, several areas still saw daytime highs in the low to mid 30s. Toronto actually reached official heat wave status, which is three consecutive days with temperatures of 32°C or higher. In Quebec, it's three days with 30°C or higher.
The city of Windsor already hit official heat wave status earlier this week and a level-two heat alert was issued for Windsor-Essex. This alert is posted when the forecast predicts four or more days of a humidex value reaching 40. On Thursday, the city reached 37.6°C, feeling like 50 with humidity.
“Humidex readings in southern Ontario Thursday were off the charts. We were seeing values in the mid to high 40s,” says Scott. “The humidex is an estimate and it's a great tool to remind people to scale back activity and hydrate.”
Windsor's heat wave continued Friday. Other communities in southern Ontario also hit official heat wave status Friday, including Hamilton, St. Catharines and London, which actually saw its fifth consecutive day of temperatures over 32°C.
The warm and humid air mass moved over southern Quebec as well prompting Environment Canada to issue a high heat and humidity warning for several areas this week.
In Montreal, temperatures climbed to 35.6°C Thursday, tying the monthly record for July. To add to the tropical conditions, with the humidity it felt more like 45.
The wave of heat and humidity also helped set the stage for intense thunderstorms. Environment Canada confirmed that an F1 tornado touched down Wednesday between Saguenay and Quebec City.
BEAT THE HEAT
Since we're into the dog days of summer, the Canadian Red Cross is reminding everyone of the dangers involved with high heat and humidity. Residents are urged to stay hydrated and avoid any strenuous activity.
“Particularly between the hottest part of the day, which is around 11 am to 4 pm,” says Tanya Elliot with the Red Cross.
Those most at risk of heat-related illnesses include the elderly, very young children and people who are physically exerting themselves outdoors.