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

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

Presence of auxiliary volunteers missed at Salmon Arm hospital during pandemic

Shuswap Lake Health Care Auxiliary still chips in two iPads so patients can connect with families

Column: Helping one another through these challenging times

Director’s Notes by CSRD Area C director Paul Demenok

Okanagan real estate market stable; bracing for slowdown due to COVID-19

Real estate board projects slowdown as the economic impacts of the pandemic continue to develop

May fundraisers for Salmon Arm non-profits postponed

Literacy Alliance spelling bee, Hit2Fit boxing event on hold due to COVID-19

COVID19 pushes Salmon Arm boxing coach into students’ living rooms

Needs of students with Parkinson’s prompts Bulldogs’ Peggy Maerz into Zoom Room

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

Emergency services respond to numerous incidents on Highway 1

Today there were multiple semi truck crashes on Highway 1 and a collision by the hospital

Large item collection events cancelled in Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen

Concerns about spread of COVID-19 led to decision to cancel collection events

COVID-19: postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

COVID-19: Central Okanagan fire departments only responding to serious medical calls

The new directive from Dr. Bonnie Henry does not change the public safety response of firefighters

Okanagan business produces plexiglass barriers with a cause

Mouldings and More is donating barrier proceeds to local food banks

53 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., four new deaths

B.C. has 498 active confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus

Organizers hoping to hold Summerland Fall Fair

COVID-19 pandemic may result in changes to agricultural celebration

Most Read