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Soaring temperatures in Ottawa to be quickly followed by freezing cold

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It's unseasonably warm in Ottawa, but Environment Canada is warning about a potential flash freeze just days from now.

Environment Canada's forecast called for a high of 16 C today, which would have broken the record for the warmest Feb. 27 in Ottawa history. The current record is 12.4 C, set back in 2000. So far, however, the temperature has only reached a high of 11.5 C at 2 p.m. 

The temperature at 4 p.m. was 10.3 C.

Despite the unusually high temperatures, a flash freeze warning has been issued, with Environment Canada saying rapidly falling temperatures Wednesday night could cause wet surfaces to freeze.

"A dramatic change in temperatures is expected on Wednesday with the passage of a sharp cold front. Temperatures are expected to go from well above freezing to below freezing in just a matter of a few hours," the weather agency said.

The forecast for Wednesday night includes a low of -13 C, after a daytime high of 14 C, a 27-degree swing.

Patio season comes early

Marc Phillippe and Geneivieve Thibeault are basking in the unseasonably warm temperatures the best way they know how.

"First thing we thought is let's go see Jim at the Snug Pub and let's see if they have patios open and they do so we're very happy," said Geneivieve Thibeault.

Phillippe is also dressed in shorts — unusual for this time of year, especially in Ottawa.

"Cheers in February; can you believe this?" he said.

The staff at The King Eddy didn't waste any time setting up their patio a month earlier than usual.

"April 1 is usually the day city issues permits for the summer. We have a permit for the season so we can set up right away," said Gary Thompson, one of the owners of The King Eddy.

People out enjoying the weather with recreational activities

"First day not wearing my winter coat, so it's really nice," said Brianne Matheson, walking her dog in Strathcona Park.

"I wish I wasn't at work today. I'd rather be on a hike or something enjoying it," said bartender Alyssa Glover.

Rain is in the forecast this week, bittersweet news for those skiing in Gatineau Park.

"It might be my first time this year and last time this year," said Steve Lowe. "Not the best winter for enjoying sports that's for sure."

"It feels like it crazy that we are still skiing but, oh, it's very much winter," said Kailey Lewis. Her family is off to Chelsea Pub after a morning on the ski trails. "Such a pleasant surprise to have the warm weather." 

Two days of warm weather before temperatures plummet

This could be the warmest February day in Ottawa history, as spring-like temperatures arrive in the national capital region for the final days of February.

"Typically, this is more like March than February so I'm a little surprised it has come so early," David Phillips, Environment Canada senior climatologist, told CTV Morning Live on Tuesday. "My Gosh, our weather has got so weird, wild and wacky in recent years that nothing really surprises me."

According to the social media account @YOW_Weather, a high of 16 C would be the warmest temperature ever recorded in Ottawa on a February day. The current high is 12.4 C, set on Feb. 27, 2000.

Wednesday's high of 1 C would set a record for the warmest Feb. 28 in Ottawa history. The current record is 9.9 C, set back in 2018.

"You're losing your reputation as one of the snowiest and one of the coldest national capitals in the world," Phillips told Newstalk 580 CFRA's Ottawa at Work with guest host Graham Richardson on Monday.

Phillips said the rapid swing in temperatures is unusual.

"It really is kind of bizarre, but this is what the weather has been this past winter particularly in the Ottawa area," he said Tuesday.

Warm temperatures will return for the first weekend of March, with highs of 4 C on Friday, 7 C on Saturday and 9 C on Sunday.

Ottawa forecast

Mainly cloudy with a chance of showers this evening. Low 9 C.

Wednesday will see rain all day, with the risk of a thunderstorm. High 14 C.

Environment Canada says Ottawa will see Rain showers changing to flurries in the evening and ending after midnight, with a low of -13 C.

The outlook for Thursday calls for a mix of sun and cloud with a high of -7 C.

Friday will be sunny. High 4 C.

The normal temperatures for this time of year are a high of -2 C and a low of -11 C.

--With files from CTV News Ottawa's Jackie Perez.

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