Damage from a tornado is seen in Dunrobin, Ont., west of Ottawa on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Damage from a tornado is seen in Dunrobin, Ont., west of Ottawa on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Environment Canada meteorologist says 2018 was ‘smorgasbord’ of bad events

Smoky skies, countrywide heat wave lead Environment Canada’s Top 10 weather list

Choking from smoke, sweltering in the heat or cursing early or late snow, Canadians could be forgiven for asking just what the heck happened to the weather in 2018.

“It was almost a smorgasbord of everything that could go wrong,” said David Phillips, senior climate scientist for Environment Canada. “I don’t think there was anything missing.”

Phillips has been compiling Top 10 lists for 23 years and he says the weather is not as cut and dried as it used to be. Here are his top events for 2018:

1. Smoky skies: Driven by hot, dry conditions, the number of fires was higher than last year and the area burned was double the 25-year averages. Smoke from wildfires in British Columbia and down the Pacific Coast to California darkened skies and soured air for more than 10 million Canadians.

2. Canada and the global heat wave: It was hot from coast to coast. Canada Day in Ottawa was the second-warmest in more than 130 years. Three Saskatchewan cities broke all-time records with temperatures into the 40s C. In Quebec, 93 people died from heat-related causes.

3. Spring and fall disappear: The coldest April on record slammed into the hottest-ever May. A few months later, the Prairie harvest ground to a halt when 30 centimetres of snow fell in some areas in September and October.

4. Billion-dollar windstorm: Hundreds of thousands in Quebec and Ontario were left without power in May as 120-km/h winds snapped power poles, damaged homes and hurled tree branches into vehicles like armour-piercing spears. The clean-up tab is estimated at more than $1 billion.

5. Ottawa tornadoes: A series of tornadoes tore up the boundary region between Ontario and Quebec on Sept. 21. One of them was the most powerful recorded anywhere in North America last summer. Insurance costs are expected to be about $307 million.

6. British Columbia floods: A snowpack nearly twice the norm, a wet spring and high late-spring temperatures produced flooding in several river valleys in southern B.C. Almost 5,000 people were forced from their homes by river levels not seen in 50 years.

7. Fast flooding in New Brunswick: Floods on the Saint John River are an old story, but even old-timers were surprised by the speed of the water in 2018. Deep snow, heavy rains and sudden heat created the largest, most damaging flood in modern New Brunswick history down river of Fredericton in April and May. The Reversing Falls stopped reversing.

8. Toronto’s tiny, perfect storm: On Aug. 7, a compact storm dumped 58 millimetres of rain downtown and 72 millimetres on Toronto Island, while the suburbs and the airport got almost nothing. Two men nearly drowned in an underground parking elevator and Blue Jays baseball fans got rained on despite the closed roof at Rogers Centre.

9. Cold start, long winter: Six months of it. Albertans faced wind-chill cold of -45 C on New Year’s Eve. In early January, Toronto was colder than Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T.

10. The cruellest month: Nationally, it was the coldest April in 16 years and in 71 years if you lived through it in Ontario and Quebec. In those provinces the misery was compounded with up to 12 centimetres of freezing rain, snow and ice pellets. Windows on Parliament Hill were smashed. The CN Tower was closed after Rogers Centre was bombed by ice falling from the tower.

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

Sandy Carmichael is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Seniors’ Champion. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Worker bee returns to volunteer: Sandy Carmichael a fixture at Langford Royal Canadian Legion

Sandy Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Seniors’ Champion Award

The It’s Critical campaign has raised $5.89 million towards its $7 million goal to expand critical care capacity at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
Critical care improvements make the list with Greater Victoria shoppers

Save-On-Foods pledges $300,000 to Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s It’s Critical campaign

West Shore Parks and Recreation facilities face a challenging future in terms of funding, due to reduced operations throughout the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore Parks and Recreation faces challenging future

West Shore Parks and Recreation Society submits 2021 budget request to owner municipalities

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon to listen to speakers decry COVID-19 restrictions. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents protest masks, COVID-19 restrictions

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon

Saskatoon resident liajah Pidskalny poses with his bike near the University of Victoria after putting on thousands of kilometres to raise awareness of the overdose and mental health crisis. (Courtesy Iliajah Pidskalny)
Saskatoon cyclist winds up mental health and overdose awareness ride in Victoria

Iliajah Pidskalny braves prairie winter conditions to get word out to communities

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Most Read