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'A drop of 10 degrees in 15 minutes': Toronto temperatures plunge as cold front arrives

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Toronto saw a dramatic temperature swing Wednesday that one meteorologist likened to "experiencing winter and spring in the same hour."

The day began with spring-like conditions, with the temperature reaching a high of 16.1 C at 11 a.m., which broke the record for the warmest Feb. 28 set in 1954 when the mercury hit 11.1 C.

However, the warmth didn't last as a cold front soon arrived and brought a chill over the city.

"It is like a roller coaster. It's dipping and diving," said Dave Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

"We had 16 degrees at noon, and 17 minutes later, it was six degrees. I mean, a drop of 10 degrees in just 15 minutes or so."

At 3 p.m., the temperature in the city dipped at the freezing mark – a 16-degree drop within just four hours.

"It's like weather wars breaking out. It is, in fact, the warm air duking out with the cold air," Phillips said, adding that Toronto residents should expect to see temperature swings in the next few days.

He noted that the city could break more temperature records next week.

"And of course, people are wondering, what are they going to wear? I mean, it's not just from one day to the next. It isn't. It's, in fact, it's almost by the minute you have to change your clothes," Phillips said.

When asked what was causing it, the climatologist said it was not due to climate change or El Nino, but "it is just the weird, wild and wacky weather that happens."

"What we're seeing is cold Arctic air duking it out with warm Gulf of Mexico air, and the battleground is over Toronto and southern Ontario," Phillips said.

Although Thursday will begin with wind chill values approaching -12 in the morning, the temperature will warm up to a high of 0 C later in the day.

Toronto will see above-seasonal temperatures return late this week, with a high of 5 C expected on Friday and 8 C on Saturday.

Double-digit daytime highs are in the forecast for Toronto on Sunday and Monday, as temperatures climb to 11 C and 12 C each day, respectively.

Strong winds cause scattered outages

Northwesterly winds gusting 70 to 80 km/h accompanied the arrival of the cold front on Wednesday afternoon.

Strong winds caused scattered outages across the city, leaving thousands without power. In Etobicoke, winds toppled down a large pine tree, damaging Toronto Hydro's equipment.

"We are closely monitoring this storm, and we have readied extra crews who are continuing restoration efforts and are ready to respond if needed," Toronto Hydro's spokesperson, Daniel McNeil, told CP24 Wednesday afternoon.

McNeil added that safety is their number one priority and said that Toronto Hydro is advising customers to contact them in the event that they come across down power lines and stay back 10 metres – about the length of a school bus.

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