Flooding tops Environment Canada's weather stories for 2013

Downtown Calgary, June 22, 2013.
Jonathan Hayward/CANADIAN PRESS

Environment Canada says floods were big newsmakers in Canada in 2013, and June’s record flooding in Calgary and southern Alberta leads its Top 10 weather stories of the year.

Torrential downpours overwhelmed vast areas of southern Alberta, forcing 100,000 people from their homes and causing billions of dollars in damage.

Three weeks later, flooding in another part of the county made No. 2 on the list as large parts of downtown Toronto were inundated by more rain in two hours than Toronto usually sees in the entire month of July.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada has said the two events constitute the first and third largest natural insured catastrophes in Canadian history.

Torrential April showers and a sudden snowmelt in Ontario’s cottage country that engorged rivers and raised water to historic flood levels not seen in 100 years also made the list at No. 7.

A powerful storm that led to the drowning of five young fishermen off Nova Scotia was No. 9.

Not flooding also made the list, as Environment Canada says it seemed another major Red River Valley flood was inevitable, but cold spring days and very cold nights allowed a slow, gradual melt.

That story placed fourth, just ahead of bumper crops in the west at No. 3, while B.C.’s record-breaking sunshine in July, when not a single drop of rain was recorded in Vancouver and Victoria, was No. 10.

Environment Canada uses “rebound” to describe the stories it placed at No. 5 on the list.

The coldest summer in 15 years in the eastern Arctic helped slow sea ice melting in the Canadian Arctic Ocean to within three per cent of the normal minimum coverage and resulted in the greatest ice extent since 2005. And the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence was more than 13 per cent wetter than normal, which helped restore water levels.

Other stories on the list include wicked winter weather in the East at No. 6, and the prairie winter that went on forever at No. 8.

Environment Canada notes that 2013 was another warm year in Canada - the 17th in a row - although not as warm as it’s been in recent years.

Every region was warmer or near normal, especially southern British Columbia where climatologists recorded the region’s fourth warmest December to November period in 66 years.

On the other hand, the Prairies measured just 0.1 degrees warmer than normal in 2013.

THE LIST

1. Alberta’s super flood in June that washed across one-quarter of the province and through the heart of Calgary, cutting off dozens of communities and prompting the evacuation of about 100,000 Albertans.

2. Toronto’s torrent that struck during evening rush hour on July 8, delivering more rain in two hours than Toronto usually sees during an entire July.

3. Bumper crops in the west, with a growing season food producers described as incredible, while crop yields were up and down in the East.

4. Non-flooding in the Red River Valley, where another major flood seemed inevitable, but cold spring days and very cold nights had a calming effect, allowing a slow, gradual melt.

5. Rebound in the eastern Arctic, where the coldest summer in 15 years helped slow sea ice melting, while water levels were restored in the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence area by one of the wettest years on record.

6. Wicked winter weather in the East in February, with as much as 60 cm of snow falling along the Atlantic coast.

7. Spring flooding in Ontario’s Cottage Country, with some of the highest and fastest rising water levels in recent memory.

8. The long winter in the Prairies, where the cold, snow and ice went on for seven months from October 2012 to April 2013.

9. Stormy seas and Maritime tragedy in February, where a powerful storm led to the drowning of five young fishers off Nova Scotia.

10. Sunny and rainless B.C. when not a single drop of rain fell in either Vancouver or Victoria as the Pacific coast was bathed in record breaking continuous sunshine in July.

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