London temperature drops to record low

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

While Wiarton Willie may have predicted an early spring last Friday, winter returned with a vengeance in London on Sunday, setting a new cold-temperature record.

The daytime high on Sunday was -15.8 C " the coldest daytime-high on record for Feb. 4. The previous record was -15 C in 1996.

“There is a cold weather alert issued for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the area,” said Kaylene McKinnon, a public health nurse from the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

The alert was first issued Feb. 1 based on forecasts for temperatures below -15 C.

Geoff Coulson, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said the cold air is caused by an Arctic air mass pulled down from the Arctic Circle and coming through Nunavut, the eastern Prairies, northwestern Ontario, then into the London area.

Coulson said according to the current trend, the coldest temperatures should be gone by Thursday and we can expect highs of about -6 C.

“Normal highs for this time of year are around -2 C for daytime-highs and -10 C for nighttime, so still below normal but not like the past few days.”

McKinnon said a cold weather alert is issued in London-Middlesex if the temperature itself is predicted to be -15 C or lower, if Environment Canada has issued an outdoor activity warning factoring in the windchill, or in extreme conditions like blizzards and ice storms.

“On Wednesday, we’ll look ahead at the forecast and see whether we need to extend the warning,” McKinnon said. “It looks like we’re going to have about a week before a release.”

McKinnon said it’s important to keep warm and dry and to watch out for yourselves, others and pets.

“[Yesterday morning] it was -21 C and -32 C with the windchill. Warm skin suddenly exposed can get frostbite in 10 minutes.”

Coulson said temperatures for the rest of February are predicted to be normal or slightly below normal for this time of year.

He also said the warm start to winter indirectly contributed to more intense snow squalls than normal in London of late.

“One of the not so great things from having a mild December and January is it left the Great Lakes milder and ice-free right into February,” Coulson said. “Now when the very cold air encounters the lakes, we’re seeing the impact of very significant snow squalls " which certainly affects London.”

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