updatedOntario heat wave breaks temperature records

Posted: Jul 21, 2011 1:09 PM ET

Last Updated: Jul 21, 2011 5:33 PM ET

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At least 10 southern Ontario communities have set highs for the hottest July 21 on record, and Toronto led as the hottest spot in the country, with a high of 37.1 C, which felt like 51 with the humidity factored in.

It's not yet known how many all-time temperature records have fallen today.

But temperatures in Hamilton and Goderich broke the records for July 21. In Hamilton, it was 32.8 C by noon, compared with the record of 32.7 C.

In Goderich, the record of 28.7 C was also smashed by noon, when temperatures reached 29.2 C.

The expected high for Thursday in London is 37 C, and the temperature is forecast to peak at 39 C in Windsor.

The all-time records for those cities are 40.2 C in Windsor, 38.2 C in London and between 38.3 C and 40.6 C in Toronto (based on temperatures measured at what is now Pearson International Airport and a downtown station that is relied on less for records because it has moved around over the years).

The epicentre of Canada's heat wave is southern Ontario, where the humidity was making it feel even hotter.

Humidex values included:

  • 51 for downtown Toronto.
  • 47 in Buttonville.
  • 48 in Windsor.
  • And 47 in St. Catharines.

"I'm sure that daily records are going to fall all across southern Ontario," said CBC meteorologist Nick Czernkovich.

"That's a given. Will monthly records fall? That's a possibility. Will all-time records fall? That's a close call."

The heat sent residents of several Ontario cities to emergency cooling centres, slowed commuter trains and prompted the Blue Jays to close the retractable roof of Toronto's Rogers Centre for their afternoon game against the Mariners (the first time it has been closed because of the heat).

Due to the extreme heat in Toronto, Air Canada Cargo imposed a temporary embargo on transporting animals via cargo for animal health and safety reasons. The embargo is reviewed regularly and has been extended for another 24 hours due to forecasted temperatures, Air Canada spokeswoman Angela Mah told CBC News at 5 p.m. ET Thursday.

Thursday afternoon's thoroughbred racing card at Woodbine was cancelled because of the heat. The decision was made after the racetrack's management consulted with the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and the Ontario Racing Commission veterinarians.

"In the best interest of the horses and after having discussed it with the HBPA and the veterinarians, it's the right decision to cancel Thursday's thoroughbred card," said Steve Koch, WEG's vice-president of thoroughbred racing.

Thoroughbred racing is expected to resume at Woodbine on Friday. at 2 p.m.

Canada Post mail carriers in heat wave regions were allowed to start their routes in the early-morning hours, so they're not out during the hottest part of the day, said spokesman John Caines. Carriers were also given sunscreen, hats and water.

"They're professionals as well, so they know how to conduct themselves in this kind of weather, but if they can get out early and get the mail before it gets too, too hot and get it all delivered, then it's better for everybody," he said.

Despite the soaring temperatures, the province's power supply is expected to meet demand. The Independent Electricity System Operator predicts peak demand will hit 25,591 megawatts today, which won't even be enough to crack the top 10 peak demand days.

The all-time high was Aug. 1, 2006, when Ontario needed 27,005 megawatts of electricity. IESO spokesman Terry Young said lower industrial demand is one of the reasons we won't set any power consumption records despite the soaring heat and humidity.

The heat has also forced GO Transit commuter trains to travel slower than usual as a safety precaution because the metal tracks they ride on expand in the heat.

The transit operator is warning that it could mean 10 to 15 minute delays.

Temperatures in southern Quebec could also break some records, with a forecast in the low 30s, including 34 C in Montreal.

Warm but less oppressive temperatures will stretch eastward, too, with temperatures predicted to hit 30 C in Fredericton.

The rising temperatures have been caused by a so-called heat dome — a hot, unmoving high-pressure area hovering over central Canada.

The dome is pushing the jet stream well to the north and keeping cooler or wetter weather out.

The same phenomenon has also caused a heat wave in the U.S., the worst in more than a decade.

With files from The Canadian Press

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