Toronto Travel Guide

Geography

Toronto covers an area of, with a maximum north-south distance of and a maximum east-west distance of . It has a long waterfront shoreline, on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. The Toronto Islands and Port Lands extend out into the lake, allowing for a somewhat sheltered Toronto Harbour south of the downtown core. The city's borders are formed by Lake Ontario to the south, Etobicoke Creek and Highway 427 to the west, Steeles Avenue to the north and the Rouge River and the Scarborough-Pickering Townline to the east.

Topography

The city is intersected by three rivers and numerous tributaries: the Humber River in the west end and the Don River east of downtown at opposite ends of the Toronto Harbour, and the Rouge River at the city's eastern limits. The harbour was naturally created by sediment buildup from lake currents that created the Toronto Islands. The many creeks and rivers cutting from north toward the lake created large tracts of densely forested ravines, and provide ideal sites for parks and recreational trails. However, the ravines also interfere with the city's grid plan, and this results in major thoroughfares such as Finch Avenue, Leslie Street, Lawrence Avenue, and St. Clair Avenue terminating on one side of ravines and continuing on the other side. Other thoroughfares such as the Prince Edward Viaduct are required to span above the ravines. These deep ravines prove useful for draining the city's storm sewer system during heavy rains, but some sections, particularly near the Don River are prone to sudden, heavy floods.

During the last ice age, the lower part of Toronto was beneath Glacial Lake Iroquois. Today, a series of escarpments mark the lake's former boundary, known as the Iroquois Shoreline. The escarpments are most prominent from Victoria Park Avenue to the mouth of Highland Creek, where they form the Scarborough Bluffs. Other observable sections include the area near St. Clair Avenue West between Bathurst Street and the Don River, and north of Davenport Road from Caledonia to Spadina Road; the Casa Loma grounds sit above this escarpment. Despite its deep ravines, Toronto is not remarkably hilly, but does increase in elevation steadily away from the lake. Elevation differences range from above sea level at the Lake Ontario shore to ASL near the York University grounds in the city's north end at the intersection of Keele Street and Steeles Avenue. There are occasional hilly areas; in particular, midtown Toronto has a number of rolling hills. Lake Ontario remains occasionally visible from the peaks of these ridges as far north as Eglinton Avenue, inland.

Much of the current lakeshore land area fronting the Toronto Harbour is artificial landfill filled during the late 19th century. Until then, the lakefront docks (then known as wharves) were set back farther inland than today. Much of the adjacent Port Lands are also fill. The Toronto Islands were a natural landspit until a storm in 1858 severed their connection to the mainland, creating a channel later used by shipping interests to access the docks.

Climate

Toronto has a humid continental climate (Köppen: Dfa/Dfb), with warm, humid summers and cold winters. The city experiences four distinct seasons, with considerable variance in day to day temperature, particularly during the colder weather season. Owing to urbanization and its proximity to water, Toronto has a fairly low diurnal temperature range (day-night temperature difference). The denser urban scape makes for warmer nights year around and is not as cold throughout the winter than surrounding areas (particularly north of the city); however, it can be noticeably cooler on many spring and early summer afternoons under the influence of a lake breeze. Other low-scale maritime effects on the climate include lake-effect snow, fog and delaying of spring- and fall-like conditions, known as seasonal lag.

Toronto winters sometimes feature cold snaps where maximum temperatures remain below, often made to feel colder by wind chill. Snowstorms, sometimes mixed with ice and rain, can disrupt work and travel schedules, accumulating snow can fall any time from November until mid-April. However, mild stretches also occur in most winters melting accumulated snow. The summer months are characterized by long stretches of humid weather. Usually in the range from to, daytime temperatures occasionally surpass accompanied by high humidity making it feel oppressive during these brief periods of hot weather. Spring and autumn are transitional seasons with generally mild or cool temperatures with alternating dry and wet periods.

Precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, but summer is usually the wettest season, the bulk falling during thunderstorms. There can be periods of dry weather, but drought-like conditions are rare. The average yearly precipitation is about, with an average annual snowfall of about . Toronto experiences an average of 2,066 sunshine hours, or 45% of daylight hours, varying between a low of 28% in December to 60% in July.

source: Wikipedia

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