The weather this year has been a topic of hot discussion, from devastating storms to climate change. As 2019 comes to a close, Environment Canada’s David Phillips visited Your Morning to break down the top five weather related stories of the year. Check them out below, and watch the video above for more from David.
1. ANOTHER RECORD-SETTING OTTAWA RIVER FLOOD
Flooding on the Ottawa River is often a threat in the spring. In the past century, flooding has exceeded a flow of 8,000 cubic metres per second at Hawkesbury, ON, on eight occasions. But only twice, in 2017 and 2019, has the flow peaked above 9,000 cubic metres per second.
This year’s flood was bigger than the 2017 event that was then considered the flood of the century. On April 5, Hydro-Québec reported the dam at Chute Bell, QC on the Rouge River (that feeds into the Ottawa River), was exceeding the dam’s specifications. The dam built to withstand a once-in-one-thousand-year flood saw water gushing over the top and around its sides, at eleven times its normal flow. Everything about this year’s flood, including its size and duration, was unprecedented, Environment Canada reports.
2. ACTIVE HURRICANE SEASON AS PREDICTED
The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season was one of the world’s most devastating, with many casualties and widespread destruction in the Caribbean. Post-tropical depression Erin reached the south shore of Nova Scotia on August 29 merging with a trough of low-pressure arriving from the west. At its peak, this hybrid storm’s rainfall rates exceeded 30 mm per hour, triggering flash flooding with ponding and washouts.
A week later, Hurricane Dorian arrived on the scene. Dorian was the most destructive storm of the season both outside and inside Canada. With winds of nearly 300 km/h, it destroyed parts of Grand Bahama and Abacos before it crawled adjacent to Florida and Georgia and made landfall in North Carolina. It later hit Halifax as a post-tropical storm. Post-tropical storm Dorian pounded Atlantic Canada with heavy rains, winds, storm surges, and high significant waves over the 24-hour event September 7 and 8. Nearly half a million people were without power across Atlantic Canada. Eighty per cent of Nova Scotia’s homes and businesses lost power − the highest number of outages in Nova Scotia Power’s history.
3. PRAIRIE SNOW FALL
Snow in September is not rare in Calgary and about two-thirds of its annual snowfall usually occurs in the fall and spring seasons. But for four days at the end of September, Calgary was hit with a four-day snowfall that totaled 32 centimeters. While not a record, Calgary did see the greatest depth of snow on the ground in 65 years for late September.
The heavy wet snow created huge traffic problems. Several universities and colleges closed, public services shut down, and air travelers faced delays and flight cancellations. Snow accumulation on power lines and branches led to widespread power outages. In southern British Columbia, the early blast of winter also brought 35 to 50 centimeters of snow across several mountain passes. Eventually the storm moved eastward, bringing much less snow to southern Saskatchewan and only rains to Manitoba.
4. A BRUTAL FEBRUARY IN CANADA
Due to the Polar Vortex, arctic weather pushed southward for six weeks, from late January throughout February, with a continuous supply of cold air. For half the country, from the Pacific Coast to the Upper Great Lakes, February was the coldest month in at least 70 years. Along the Pacific coast and the BC interior, temperatures were 9 degrees below normal. Calgary had its coldest February in 83 years, and Alberta’s chinook country was 14 degrees colder than normal. Toronto saw a year’s worth of snow in the first two months of the year with only 10 days without precipitation in January and February.
5. RECORD HEAT CONTINUES IN THE ARCTIC
This September, Arctic sea ice reached its annual minimum at 4.15 million square kilometers—the second lowest minimum extent on record. Freeze-up in the fall was the latest on record (since 1979) primarily due to the extraordinary warm spell spanning ten weeks starting in early September.
From Alaska to Greenland and in Canada, the North American Arctic experienced above average temperatures at a record level throughout the year. Summer temperatures in the High Arctic, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada’s trends analysis, ranged between 2.5° and 4.5°C above what is normal for Nunavut, making it the warmest summer in 72 years.