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

John Rustad, MLA Nechako Lakes. (Submitted photo)
Nechako Lakes MLA questions vaccine supply shift

John Rustad wonders why elderly aren’t being vaccinated while younger people are

Nak’azdli Whut’en Chief Aileen Prince provides an overview of past and future projects in a Facebook video Friday, Jan. 22. (Nak’azdli Whut’en Facebook image)
Anxiety and grief, Nak’azdli Whut’en Chief looks beyond COVID-19

“One day it will be over,” says Aileen Prince

Operating Room nurse Tammy Solecki, Clinical Practice Leader Joanne George, and Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Van Zyl, stand alongside new equipment G.R. Baker’s shoulder surgery extension. (Submitted photo)
New shoulder surgery program at G.R. Baker Hospital in Quesnel already getting rave reviews

The $200,000 program could support nearly 100 surgeries a year at G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

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

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Most Read