TORONTO - The weather that greeted Canadians on the first day of spring is not the kind likely to put a spring in anyone's step.
The season officially began at 7:02 a.m. ET Wednesday with cold temperatures and flurries in parts of Ontario, snow in the Maritimes and Quebec, rain in British Columbia and freezing temperatures across the Prairies.
Environment Canada anticipates colder than usual temperatures across Canada will be seen throughout March.
The weather office says the cold weather is due to an unstable air stream from Alaska and Russian Siberia.
Although Wednesday's high in Toronto is below the average high of 6 C for March 20, it's not as unusual as the record-setting 21.9 C temperature recorded on the same day last year.
Peter Kimbell, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, predicts the cold spell will last until at least Saturday and that conditions will return to normal spring-like weather through April and May.
"While spring is officially here, Canadians can be forgiven for asking, 'Is it really here?'" Kimbell said. "There are very few people in the country who are comfortably enjoying spring today."
Weather is inherently variable, he said.
"It's no surprise that we would be experiencing conditions that fluctuate up and down just like the stock market," Kimbell said. "Warmer one month, colder the next. That's part and parcel for living in Canada."