Special air quality statement issued for Toronto as heatwave continues

Early-morning thunderstorms and heavy bouts of rain were experienced in Toronto and across the GTA on Tuesday as a scorching heatwave entered its second day.

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement for Toronto on Tuesday morning, in addition to a heat warning expected to remain in place for the rest of the week. The special weather statement was lifted just before 8 a.m.

Environment Canada cautioned that a “cluster of slow-moving thunderstorms could produce wind gusts up to 80 km/h and locally heavy rainfall [Tuesday] morning.”

“Strong wind gusts can toss loose objects and break branches off trees,” the alert read.

Special weather statements also appeared in Halton-Peel (Mississauga-Brampton, Burlington-Oakville, and Halton-Hills-Milton), Hamilton, and parts of cottage country. Those alerts have since been lifted.

Heavy rain falls in Toronto’s downtown core on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Photo: Bertram Dandy/CityNews.

Environment Canada has since issued a special air quality statement, citing high levels of air pollution that may occur this afternoon and evening across the city and the GTA.

“Hot and sunny conditions are expected to cause increasing ground-level ozone concentrations north of Lake Ontario,” Canada’s weather agency noted. “Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.”

The special air quality statement spans the GTA, including Mississauga, Brampton, Burlington, Oakville, Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Markham.

Toronto’s daytime highs are expected to be 30 to 35 C throughout the week, with humidex values of 40 to 45. On Tuesday, the daytime high will be 30 C, though it will feel more like 40 with the humidex.

The next round of thunderstorms could come on Thursday, with a chance for heavier rain on Friday morning.

City of Toronto extends outdoor pool hours

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) warned parents that they should expect “uncomfortable conditions” this week in schools that are only partially air-conditioned or have none at all.

A spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care tells the Canadian Press that all nursing homes in the province, except for two that are being redeveloped, are “fully air-conditioned.”

The City of Toronto, meanwhile, says people experiencing homelessness can seek reprieve from the heat at various drop-in centres, shelters, and 24-hour respite sites across the city. In response to the heat warning, officials also extended hours at 10 outdoor pools across the city.

For details on the extended forecast and to sign up for the CityNews Weather Guarantee, click here.

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