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

Nanaimo air compressor business helps manufacture parts for COVID-19 fight

VMAC has crafted parts now being tested in prototype ventilator created at University of Minnesota

‘Stay strong’ graffiti message offers encouragement in downtown Nanaimo

Boarded-up Modern Café regains some of its colour during COVID-19 pandemic

Couple celebrates anniversary through a window at Nanaimo seniors’ home

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

Beefs & Bouquets, April 1

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

RDN enters into Stage 2 water restrictions, City of Nanaimo enters Stage 1

Stage 2 sees odd-number addresses watering on odd-number days and vice-versa

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Thieves taking advantage of empty streets, say Nanaimo RCMP

Police offer crime prevention reminders during COVID-19 pandemic

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

Belle from ‘Beauty and the Beast’ entertains home-bound kids in Cowichan Bay

Alora Killam, 16, played the part in musical two years ago

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Most Read