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Record warm temperatures start the new year in Ontario and Quebec

Looks like spring in Montreal
Looks like spring in Montreal

Lisa Varano, staff writer

January 2, 2011 — Central Canada got a brief taste of spring for the start of the new year. But Ontario and Quebec have since dipped back to seasonal.

Melting ice rink in King City, Ontario
Melting ice rink in King City, Ontario

The first day of 2011 was record-breaking in Ontario and Quebec.

New Year's Day brought the warmest January 1 on record to Toronto. Mild temperatures also dominated northern Ontario, Ottawa and Montreal.

There was a ridge in the jet stream over eastern North America. Ahead of an area of low pressure, we had southerly winds, and that brought a warm, mild air mass from the southern U.S., resulting in record-high temperatures, particularly in Ontario, says Brian Owsiak, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

January 1 temperature records were broken as southern Ontario climbed above around 10C. New records included: Toronto (12C), Hamilton (11.1C), Windsor (11.3C), Goderich (12.1C) and Collingwood (11.5C).

Southern Ontario was mild but wet, with some areas seeing 10 to 15 mm of rain.

The warm weather on Saturday was welcome to people taking part in a New Year's Day tradition - the polar bear dip for charity. The weather was much kinder than on Boxing Day, when polar bears took a frigid plunge in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

But the spring-like weather compromised other New Year's traditions. The Rideau Canal in Ottawa is closed to skaters until the ice thickens. In the United States, mild and wet weather forced the N.H.L. to delay the Winter Classic outdoor game on Saturday in Pittsburgh.

Mild conditions were felt all the way up to northern Ontario. Temperature records were broken in places like North Bay (7.2C), Sudbury (7.1C), Sault Ste. Marie (7C), Timmins (6.2C).

Dense fog was reported from Sault Ste. Marie to North Bay. Smog hung over Montreal, while temperature records were broken in parts of southern Quebec.

Fog hangs over Montreal
Fog hangs over Montreal


Temperatures quickly fell on Saturday night. We had the passage of a cold front, which allowed cold air to move into Ontario and Quebec. And with a dip in the jet stream that followed suit, we'll be in a pattern of back-to-seasonal temperatures all week, says Patrick Cool, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

Lake-effect snow was in the forecast on Sunday in places like the Bruce Peninsula, Parry Sound and Muskoka. Check your local forecast details.

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