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Getting Ready for 40

In November 2012, the City released a new report: Toronto's Future Weather & Climate. The report predicts some severe and alarming weather patterns for Toronto in 2040 based on current global warming trends.

This first-of-its-kind report specifically looked at the city of Toronto and how rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere will affect temperature and severe weather events in Toronto.

As expected, the report predicts winters will get warmer, and summer storms will get more severe. But some unexpected and frightening results were also noted.

In particular, Toronto's summers will be extremely hot. Toronto will see:

  • · 40 days per year with a humidex over 40˚C (current average is 9 per year)
  • · 180 days when it's 24˚C or higher for 24 hours (which means air conditioning is needed); today it's 30 days per year
  • · 5 heat waves per year (3 or more consecutive days of 32˚C or higher), instead of one heatwave every two years
  • ·  More summer rain: 80% more summer rain in July, 50% more in August
  • ·  Extreme rain storms will be three times bigger: 166 mm in 24hrs from the current 66 mm. 

Torontonians and our physical infrastructure are not ready for this hot and stormy weather. In terms of heat, many people live in homes and apartments that are difficult to cool down, and our electricity system is too fragile to deal with the increased demand as more people use air conditioning. We've already seen the impact of an over-taxed electricity system with brown-outs and black outs in recent years.

In terms of rain and storms, Toronto's sewer infrastructure is already struggling to deal with current rain storms. Bigger storms will only cause more basement floods, and wash outs of roads and bridges. In addition to infrastructure damage, the high volume of water also cause combined-sewer overflows and sewage treatment bypasses, releasing raw sewage directly into our rivers and lake.  

TEA's Response

TEA rang the alarm bells when this city report was released. In January 2013, when the report was finally considered by City Councillors, TEA urged them to move quickly and act on the report's findings. Read more about that meeting.

Since then, TEA has been spreading the word about this report. We've spoken to the media, and to community groups (Green 13 and Green Neighbours 21).

We will continue pushing City Hall to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, electricity use and to prepare our city residents and infrastructure for a warming climate. Read more about TEA's action on climate change.