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Climate - Toronto

Temperature, rainfall, prevailing weather conditions, when to go

United States version (°F - inches - feet). See also the metric version (°C - mm - meters)

Flag - Canada

Toronto, where it's located

In Toronto, Canada's main town and capital of Ontario, the climate is continental, with cold winters and warm summers. Although the city is located in the south of the country, winter is cold because the North American continent cools down a lot, and outbreaks of polar air masses are frequent. Given the exposure to different types of air masses, temperature changes are frequent.
Here are the average temperatures at the Toronto Pearson Airport, in the south-west of the city. The neighborhoods overlooking the shores of the lake are a bit milder.
Toronto average temperatures
Toronto J F M A M J J A S O N D
Min (°F) 15 16 24 35 45 55 60 59 51 40 32 22
Max (°F) 29 31 40 54 66 76 81 79 71 58 46 35

Precipitation amounts to about 31 inches per year, and is well distributed over the seasons: in fact in all the months disturbances pass, due to the continual clashes between masses of warm and cold air, and in the only season in which these are less frequent, that is summer, afternoon thunderstorms can form: it's no coincidence that August is the rainiest month, at least as regards the amount. During the long winter months, from mid-November to March, precipitation occurs mainly in the form of snow. In an average year, about five feet of snow fall; sometimes a snowfall can be seen already in October, and in spring, still in early May.
Here is the average precipitation.
Average precipitation Toronto
Toronto J F M A M J J A S O N D Year
Prec. (in) 2.0 1.9 2.0 2.7 2.9 2.8 3.0 3.1 3.0 2.4 3.0 2.3 31.0
Days 15 12 12 12 12 11 10 10 10 12 13 15 144

Fog is fairly common at night and in the early morning, all year round, especially in rural areas around the city.

Toronto skyline

Winter in Toronto runs from late November to mid-March and is cold, so that the average temperature, about 22 °F in January, is similar to that of northern European cities like Oslo. However, at least here the days are not as short as in the Nordic countries.
Waves of cold are accompanied by the blizzard, the north wind blowing in gusts.
Given the constant instability of the weather, the temperature can exceed freezing even in winter, so that snow can melt and it can rain. On the other hand, waves of bitter cold, with peaks of 5 °F/15 °F, occur practically every year.
Snowfalls are frequent, so much so that it snows for several days per month; occasionally real snow storms may occur. Sometimes the phenomenon called "ice storm" (or glaze ice) may occur, that is, rain falling on frozen ground, freezing everything, roads, trees, light poles, cars etc.

Spring, from mid-March to May, is an unstable season, characterized by temperature changes: initially cold in March, with snowfalls and frosts still quite frequent, it advances gradually, with the first warm days and returns of cold, and it is still on average cold in April, when it can still snow in the first half of the month, while it becomes mild in May, when also afternoon thunderstorms start to erupt during sunny days.

Summer, from June to August, is warm, with highs usually about 79/81 °F; on hot days, when the temperature can reach or even exceed 85 °F, it can also be muggy, thanks to contribution of Lake Ontario. However, in summer there are also cool and cloudy days, while when the weather is fine, and refreshed by the breeze blowing from the lake, thunderstorms can erupt in the afternoon. Sometimes even heat waves may occur, with highs around 93/98 °F, generally of short duration.

Autumn, from September to mid-November, is initially pleasant, with many sunny days, in which the temperature exceeds 77 °F: these periods, called Indian summer, occur in September, but sometimes even in October. As weeks pass, however, the temperature decreases rapidly, low pressure areas become more frequent and the first cold days occur.

The amount of sunshine in Toronto is all in all good in summer, and it's decent in May and September; it is not much in the other months, and is low in winter, especially in November and December, when the sun is rarely seen.

Lake Ontario is very cold in winter, when it's close to the freezing point, while in summer it becomes almost acceptable for swimming, at least for those who do not suffer from the cold, especially in August, when it reaches 70 °F.
Here are the average lake temperatures.
Lake temperature Toronto
Toronto J F M A M J J A S O N D
Lake (°F) 37 36 36 37 45 55 66 70 66 57 48 41

When to go

The best time to visit Toronto runs from mid-May to late September. In the height of summer, ie in July and August, there may be hot and muggy days, so this period can be excluded if you cannot stand the heat; in May (and sometimes at the beginning of June) it can be a little cold. However, you must always take into account the possibility of rain and temperature changes.

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