Montreal breaks May temperature record as heatwave grips Canada

Montreal (AFP) –


Temperatures in Montreal on Wednesday reached an all-time high for the month of May as a heatwave swept through parts of Canada, Environment Canada said.

At Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau international airport, the mercury rose to 36.6 degrees Celsius (98 Fahrenheit), making the city the hottest in the country.

It was also the second-highest temperature on record overall behind 37.6C (100F) set in August 1975. The previous record for May of 34.7C (94.5F) was set in 2010.

In neighboring Ontario, Ottawa also hit a record 35C (95F) -- but with the humidity Environment Canada said it felt like 40C (104F) in both cities.

And in Toronto, a half dozen cooling centers were opened for residents as authorities issued extreme heat warnings.

"It's a powerful heatwave," Environment Canada meteorologist Simon Legault told AFP. "And it's only May."

It's "really exceptional" for temperatures to soar to such heights at this time of year in Canada, he said, especially only three weeks after a late snowfall.

"It's even hotter than records set in June and July," he said.

He said it was due to a hot and humid front coming up from the Gulf of Mexico in the southern United States, which has experienced similarly hot temperatures this week.

On Thursday, heat warnings remained in effect as temperatures hovered around 30 to 33 degrees across much of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.

Warnings are issued when people are at risk of heat exhaustion or stroke.

The heat is expected to break on Friday or Saturday, with a cold front bringing with it heavy rains.

The scorching temperatures arrived just as Canada started easing a lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of the new coronavirus, and Canadians were eager to go outside and shake cabin fever.

Montreal has been hit hard, recording 6,900 deaths, or more than one-third of all COVID-19 fatalities in Canada.