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Canada's Top Ten Weather Stories for 2013

A Year in Review - 2013 Weather Stories

Floods were the big newsmakers in Canada in 2013. In some cases it was fast and furious rains that were to blame; in others it was a mix of rainfall and snowmelt. Add an urban landscape with little capacity to absorb the aftermath and you have all the key ingredients for an ominous overflow.

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The Top Ten

1. Alberta's Flood of Floods

1. Alberta's Flood of Floods

Alberta’s super flood of 2013 washed across one-quarter of the province and through the heart of Calgary. It was likely the most disruptive flood in Canadian history, cutting off dozens of communities and prompting the largest evacuation with up to 100,000 Albertans told to leave their homes. 

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Flooded park

2. Toronto's Torrent

Two separate storm cells struck Toronto during evening rush hour on July 8. This one-two weather punch delivered more rain in two hours than Toronto usually sees during an entire July. Never before had such a drenching thunderstorm soaked a surface with more cement than grass.

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Field of hay

3. Bumper Crops in the West, So-So for the Rest

In the West, the growing season came pretty darn close to perfect with food producers describing it as incredible, bin-busting and best in a lifetime. Heading eastward, the growing season was more of a rollercoaster – some crop yields were up and some were down.

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Fallen trees due to ice.

4. The Nightmare during Christmas

The weekend before Christmas a vigorous winter storm coated parts of eastern Canada with a thick mixture of snow, ice pellets, rain and freezing rain that plunged large parts of the region into days of cold and darkness. Thick glaze left roads and sidewalks slick and dangerous and knocked down power lines, leaving over 500,000 people without electricity.1

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Two ducks swimming in paritially frozen water.

5. To Flood or Not to Flood

Flood forecasters were predicting yet another major Red River Valley flood, which would be the third in five years. But what experts considered a “sure” flood never came to be after a cold spring eased snowmelt and kept water levels manageable.

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Icebergs in the Arctic

6. Rebound in the Arctic Ocean and the Great Lakes

In the eastern Arctic, the coldest summer in 15 years helped slow sea ice melting in the Canadian Arctic Ocean. For the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence, it was one of the wettest years on record – more than 13 per cent wetter than normal – which helped restore water levels.

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People being blown by snow gusts.

7. Wicked Winter Weather Wallops the East

In February, two weather systems morphed into a blizzard of historic proportions with as much as 60 cm of snow falling along the Atlantic coast. For many in southern Ontario and Quebec, it was a one-day event that packed a punch with strong gusty winds and tons of blowing snow.

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Cottages in water

8. Spring Flooding in Ontario's Cottage Country

Warm, moist mid-April weather led to major flooding north and east of Georgian Bay in Ontario’s cottage country. Copious amounts of warm rain also melted a later-than-normal snowpack. The ensuing melt water and rains funneled quickly into rivers, lakes and streams causing some of the highest and fastest rising water levels in recent memory.

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Hay bales covered with snow in a snow covered field.

9. Prairie Winter Went on Forever

Environment Canada considers the months of December through February as winter. Tell that to the Prairies, where cold, snow and ice went on for seven months from October 2012 to April 2013. As a result, it felt and looked like winter from before Thanksgiving to a month after Easter.

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Ship navigating through turbulent waters

10. Stormy Seas and Maritime Tragedy

In a month of frequent winter storms across eastern North America, none was more tragic than the powerful storm that led to the drowning of five young fishermen off Nova Scotia.

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Runner-Up Weather Stories

  1. Sunny and Rainless in BC
  2. Newfoundland’s Old-time Blizzard
  3. Early February Atlantic Storm
  4. Highway Mayhem near Edmonton
  5. Fort McMurray Flooding
  6. Manitoba’s Wild July Storms
  7. Few Wildfires but Large Burn
  8. Eastern Canada’s Short Summer
  9. Fogtober on the Pacific Coast
  10. American Thanksgiving Storm Blows into Canada
  11. Quiet Storm Season Surprises Hurricane
  12. Classic Prairie Blizzard

Regional Highlights

Atlantic Canada

  1. January Ends Warm, Windy and Snowless
  2. Fog on Fogo
  3. Early Spring Flooding
  4. Newfoundland’s Victoria Weekend Snowfall
  5. New Brunswick Tornado
  6. New Brunswick Soaker
  7. August Soaker
  8. Blustery Labour Day Weekend
  9. Badger Loses Power in Storm

Quebec

  1. Montréal’s Storm of the Century
  2. January Deep Freeze and Power Surge
  3. High Winds Postpone Rescue Efforts
  4. Snow on First Day of Spring
  5. Early Season Heat Wave
  6. Quebec’s First Tornado and Last Snowfall
  7. Stormy Weather
  8. Storm with Everything
  9. Flooding Rainfalls
  10. First snows are heavy
  11. Witches of November

Ontario

  1. Spectacular January Thaw
  2. Highway Chaos
  3. Another January Thaw
  4. April Cruel
  5. Coming of Spring
  6. James Bay Flooding
  7. A Tornado Swarm
  8. Torrential May Rains
  9. Windsor’s Wettest Month on Record
  10. A Soaker in the North
  11. Four Tornado Days
  12. Sault Soaker in September
  13. Soggy September Weekend
  14. Record Wet Fall
  15. Swarm of Waterspouts over Lakes Ontario and Erie
  16. First-ever Snow-nado?
  17. Classic Lake-effect Snowstorms

Prairie Provinces

  1. Powerful Prairie Blizzard
  2. Three-province Storm
  3. St. Patrick’s Day Storm
  4. May Day Storm
  5. A Tsunami of Ice
  6. Two May Storms
  7. Snowy November in Alberta

British Columbia

  1. Foggy Spell
  2. Sunshine Missing
  3. Avalanche Weather
  4. Spring Flooding Threat
  5. Wettest September on Record
  6. Yukon Cold Makes B.C. White Gold

The North

  1. Fracturing Ice
  2. Orcas trapped with nowhere to go
  3. Good Ice Road Year
  4. Record Spring Snowfall
  5. Northern Heat Wave

1The Christmas ice storm in Eastern Canada occurred following release of the original version of Canada’s Top Ten Weather Stories for 2013. The revised document ranks this very significant event as Number 4 with other ranked events following in order. The Number 10 event in the original release now appears as a runner-up story.

2013 - A Year in Review - Introduction