VIDEO: Environment Canada’s Top 10 weather events of 2019

Remember the one that dumped a ton of rain and destroyed Halloween?

Soldiers work to hold back floodwaters on the Ottawa River in Cumberland. Ontario on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Soldiers work to hold back floodwaters on the Ottawa River in Cumberland. Ontario on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Wet. Cold. In the dark. And puzzled.

That about sums up how the weather in 2019 left Canadians feeling, says David Phillips, Environment Canada’s chief meteorologist.

“It’s almost as if normal doesn’t happen any more.”

What do you make of a year that saw thunder at the North Pole and farmers needing drought and flood insurance on the same crop? A year that had seven straight months of freeze in southern Canada at the same time the Arctic was so warm it lifted the country’s average temperature to above normal?

And one that dumped a winter’s worth of snow during harvest and destroyed Halloween?

“It’s almost as if the climate was wobbling all over the place,” Phillips says.

When he began compiling Canada’s yearly Top 10 weather stories 24 years ago, Phillips used to have to scratch and claw to eke out the list. The challenge now is the opposite.

On Wednesday, he released his list again.

“Another record-setting Ottawa River flood” is at the top. Three years after what was supposed to be the flood of the century, more than 6,000 homes were flooded or threatened in April after the river broke water level records by 30 centimetres.

Montreal declared a state of emergency. Ottawa’s Chaudiere Bridge closed. Hundreds of people laid sandbags to keep the water from streets and homes. Two died, one in Ontario and one in Quebec.

Hurricane Dorian — the worst of several damaging Atlantic storms in 2019 — came second. Even after wreaking destruction on the Bahamas, the storm had enough juice left to uproot century-old trees and toss fishing vessels onto the beach in the Maritimes.

Winds reached 157 km/h. Up to 190 millimetres of rain fell.

Eighty per cent of homes and businesses in Nova Scotia and nearly half a million Atlantic Canadians lost power.

On the Prairies, it was snow — in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Calgary got 32 centimetres at the end of September and slogged through the greatest depth of it on the ground in 65 years.

Snow and rain beat down crops and delayed harvest for weeks across the entire grain belt. In Winnipeg alone, snow damaged more than 30,000 trees on public land.

More than 6,000 people had to be evacuated from their First Nations communities. At the peak of an early October storm, 250,000 people were without power.

Nor was the wet limited to the West. Torrential rain forced 20 Quebec municipalities to postpone Halloween until the next day.

It seemed particularly cruel after a winter during which southern Alberta was 14 C colder than normal and the B.C. coast 9 C below average.

And summer never seemed to show up. Edmonton had 55 days of rain between June and August, the second-most on record.

Meanwhile, the Arctic was warm. And not just by Arctic standards.

In July, the remote Canadian Forces station Alert at the top of Ellesmere Island reached 21 C, warmer than Victoria. In Inuvik, N.W.T., temperatures were above normal every single day between Sept. 1 and Nov. 11. Sea ice was so late and unstable in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, that at least two Inuit travelling parties fell through, but survived.

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A family emerged with a purchase at the Tannenbaum Tree Farm at 5398 252 St in Aldergrove on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Christmas tree season is off to an early start, Aldergrove family farm reports

People are ‘bored’ with staying home due to COVID-19 and want to decorate early, farm owner believes

Donations to the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation this month are being matched – up to $75,000 – by an anonymous donor. (Langley Advance Times files)
Anonymous giver doubles donations to Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation

This month, donations will be matched up to $75,000

Surrey Little Theatre is located on 184th Street at Fraser Highway. (File photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey Little Theatre, Langley Players look to merge as single company at 200th Street theatre

A ‘really exciting’ development for the volunteer-run theatre companies

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

A heavy police presence was on scene on Dec. 28, 2017 following the shooting death on Bates Road in Abbotsford of Alexander Blanarou, 24, of Surrey. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Three men charged with Abbotsford shooting death of Surrey man

Alexander Blanarou, 24, was killed in a rural area on Dec. 28, 2017

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A convoy of seven pickup trucks, six of which were hauling boats, makes its way around the Chilliwack Law Courts on Dec. 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
First court date for Fraser River anglers ticketed during demonstration fishery

Convoy of trucks circled the courthouse in downtown Chilliwack Tuesday honking their support

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Most Read