How bad is the winter in Toronto?

You’ve probably heard a lot about Canadian winters, enough to make you concerned about how it’ll be like in Toronto. But it’s not as harsh as many people make it to be, at least not everywhere. So, how bad is the winter in Toronto?

Toronto has a mild winter with the average temperature being –4.6°C. But winter can last for 5 months, from November to March, and there are hazards such as black ice, hypothermia, and frostbite to be wary of. But with the right clothing, you can enjoy the winter and involve yourself in activities.

Although wintertime can be harsh, especially for people who have never experienced the season, it’s possible to enjoy the season. Here, we discuss winter conditions in Toronto, the length, what to avoid, how to dress, and activities to do during the season.

How is Winter in Toronto?

Winter in Toronto is generally cold, with the average temperature in January being -5.5 °C (22°F). Toronto winter comes with blizzards and cold waves, but it’s generally unstable. The instability of the weather means that there are times when the temperature exceeds freezing and the snow melts, leading to rain in the winter. However, there are also waves of intense cold when the temperature drops to around -20/-25 °C in the winter.

However, Toronto is generally less cold than other parts of Ontario. While the average winter temperature in northern Ontario can go as low as -50°C, it’s rare for the temperature in Toronto to drop below -20°C in the winter. The average temperature is -4.6°C. The relatively milder winter is because of its location on the shores of Lake Ontario. The Lake modifies its weather and ensures it’s cooler in summer and warmer in the winter than most other parts. But its milder winter is still severe, with residents experiencing snowfall above 1cm deep for an average of 65 days.

When is Winter in Toronto?

Toronto’s winter generally starts from the end of November and can last to mid-March of the following year. Of course, the intensity of winter varies within the months, but December and January are usually the coldest months of the year. The average number of days with snow in December is 10, while January is 12. It drops to 9 days by February, which is still much considering that the month has shorter days. There are times when snow continues to fall, even periodically until April.

The winter months also see the least sunshine hours during the year. December has the lowest with 80 hours of sunshine, equivalent to 2.5 hours per day throughout the month. November and January also have less than 100 at 90 and 85 hours, respectively.

Winter Hazards in Toronto

The mildness of Toronto weather is a relative thing. For people coming from places where there’s winter, Toronto might seem like a change, but Toronto winter is severe if you’ve not experienced winter before. Exposure to winter in Toronto can lead to various conditions. There are certain hazards to watch out for; the most common ones are:

1.   Frostbite

Frostbite is a condition where exposed skin or tissue freezes like ice. It usually affects areas of the body that are most likely to be exposed, such as hands, feet, face, and ears. It’s common in the winter and can be either mild or severe. Mild is when the skin blanches or whitens, in which case one should find a way to warm up quickly.

Recovering from frostbite might result in burning, swelling, or itching skin for a few hours when warming up. Severe frostbite results in the skin turning waxy and feeling numb or wooden with a grayish-blue or grayish-yellow hue and blisters. Severe blisters require urgent medical attention to prevent losing that part of the body, but it’s a rare phenomenon. Several factors could lead to frostbite. They include:

  • Overexposure to cold over a long period
  • Extremely low temperatures
  • Wet or inadequate clothing
  • Using drugs or alcohols
  • Wearing extremely tight clothing
  • High altitude and environmental humidity.

2.   Hypothermia

Another winter condition is hypothermia. This occurs when the body temperature drops below 35°C. The normal body temperature is 37°C; anything below 35°C is cause for concern. Hypothermia also results from long and intense exposure to cold and could range from mild to severe. The best way to prevent hypothermia is to wear thick and warm clothes that offer adequate protection from the cold.

3.   Black Ice

One more thing to watch out for in Toronto winter is black ice. These are hard to notice patches of ice on roads and sidewalks, which can be very slippery. Black ice can cause serious accidents when they’re not noticed, especially for those who are walking or riding a bicycle. Thus, it’s important to wear slip-resistant shoes during the winter. For those riding bikes, it’s important to have the right set of tyres.

What to Wear During Winter in Toronto

Wearing the right clothing can save you a lot of trouble in the winter. The right clothing will be something that is thick and can withhold heat. In addition, every part of your body should be covered during the winter, including the feet and hands. Thus, accessories such as gloves, socks, ear muffs, caps, and head warmers are important in the winter. You can get the right winter clothes in Toronto by visiting different stores, including second-hand stores if your budget is not enough to get something new.

Winter Activities in Toronto

While it’s cold outside in the winter, the season doesn’t necessarily have to be the time you spend indoors, especially when you’re in Toronto. There are tons of activities you get involved in here during the winter. Common activities include:

  • Ice skating, both indoor and outdoor
  • Snowboarding and skiing
  • Museum and art galleries visits
  • Niagara Falls trip
  • Winter carnivals

In Conclusion

Winter in Toronto is cold, but that’s just what you expect during the winter here. It’s not the coldest in the country, of course, and with the right clothing and preparations, you can enjoy this season in Toronto. There are several activities to involve yourself in, so nothing stops you.

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