Random Toronto weather stuff

I have a confession to make: I am a huge weather nerd. Thanks to Environment Canada’s historical climate data site, I now have a spreadsheet containing Toronto temperature and rainfall data going back as far as 1910. It’s not completely scientifically accurate, as it’s not all from the same location – I used Pearson Airport/Malton data for as long as it has existed, and then used Toronto weather data. But it’s close enough to spot obvious trends, and it’s fun to look at.

I’ve also loaded the data into a MySQL database so that I can crunch numbers. (I did mention that I am a nerd, didn’t I?) One of the calculations that I generated, just for the fun of it, was the average temperature over each year. This turns out to be somewhere between 6 and 10.5C, depending on the year. At first, I thought that this was rather cold, but then I realized that it was the average temperature over the whole year, including winter.

So far, the warmest year on record in Toronto is 2012, with an average of 10.5C. Five of the ten warmest years since 1910 are in the 21st century, which provides stark evidence that climate change is happening. (1998 and 1999 are two of the other five.) The last three years have been a little cooler, though:

  • 2013 was at 8.5C, which ranked 29th (out of 116 years).
  • The average for 2014 was only 7.5C, thanks to the very cold winter. It ranked 81st, and was the coldest year since 1996.
  • 2015’s average was 8.6C, ranking 25th despite the record cold in February.

I also crunched the numbers for the average temperature for each January:

  • 2014 was the 20th coldest January ever, at -8.6C. That winter was miserable not because it was so cold, but because the cold never let up.
  • January 2015 ranked 31st, at -7.6C. The real fun didn’t start until February.
  • This past January was at -3.6C, which ranks 86th.
  • The warmest January ever was 1932, at a startlingly warm 1.9C. 1933 was second-warmest at 0.9C. (2006 was the only other January where the average was over zero.) In 1932, there was only one day in January where the high temperature for the day was below zero, and it was the very last day: on January 31, the high was -5.6C.
  • The coldest January ever was 1994, when the average was -12.4C. I remember that winter: I lived in a high-rise that faced north, so I was exposed to lots of cold air every morning. I was grateful that I owned a space heater.

Anyway, that’s enough weather nerding for now. It’s about time to face today’s weather, which calls for snow, ice pellets, and rain, not necessarily in that order. I am looking forward to spring.


About davetill

I'm a writer and occasional web designer. I live in Toronto.
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