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Extreme cold alert in Toronto for this week

Toronto opened its three warming shelters following the issuance of an extreme cold weather alert.

Dr. Eileen De Villa, the city's medical officer of health, issued the alert based on today's weather forecast, which calls for a minimum temperature of minus 11 degrees Celsius tonight that could feel like minus 17 degrees Celsius with wind chill.

Extreme weather alerts are generally issued when temperatures are forecast to be minus 15 C or below, or when wind chill is forecast to drop below minus 20 C over the next 24 hours or more.

"Other factors may also be considered, such as predicted precipitation, low daytime temperatures, sudden drops in temperature, and consecutive days and nights of colder temperatures," the city said in a news release.

This alert is in effect until further notice.

The city's three emergency warming centers will open at 7 p.m. this evening. They are located at Metro Hall at 55 John St., Scarborough Civic Center at 150 Borough Dr. and Mitchell Field Community Center and 89 Church Ave. in North York.

Vulnerable people, as well as the homeless, can visit a warming center, which provides people with a warm, safe indoor place to rest and access to refreshments, restrooms and emergency shelter referrals.

All warming centers are available on a walk-in basis.

The City of Toronto is asking residents to call 311 if they see a homeless person who may need assistance on the street, or 911 if it is an emergency.

People are urged to check the weather before going out, dress in layers, wear a hat, warm mittens or gloves and warm boots. The city recommends choosing wool or synthetic fabrics over cotton, seeking shelter if an individual normally spends long periods of time outdoors, drinking warm liquids, and considering rescheduling activities or limiting time outdoors. It is also suggested to keep the temperature above 21 degrees Celsius and monitor vulnerable friends, neighbors and family members.

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