Canada's Top Ten Weather Stories for 2012

Quebec - Regional Highlights

Rare Mid-January Start to Winter

Quebecers had to wait until the middle of January before seeing their first significant blast of winter. A huge 25 cm dump of snow fell over the Lower St. Lawrence and the Gaspésie region. On January 14 and 15, cold air between -30 to -40°C gripped the Upper Laurentians and Saguenay regions. Two days later a vigorous cold front with winds of 90 km/h caused damage to trees, hydro poles and power lines resulting in outages to 80,000 Hydro-Québec customers. At Montréal-Trudeau Airport, winds reached 83 km/h – only the second January in 70 years to have recorded such speeds. And there have only been six winters since 1940 when Montreal has had to wait later than January 14 for its first snow accumulation of 15 cm.

Two Troublesome Tornadoes

After a day of scorching hot and humid weather on May 25, an intense line of thunderstorms tracked into Quebec from eastern Ontario. The system spawned two tornadoes that ripped through communities northwest of Montreal within minutes of each other. The first twister was a Fujita Scale 0 (F0) that struck the rural community of Chatham-Brownsburg. A second stronger F1 tornado with gusts of 150 km/h followed in Saint Benoit de Mirabel. In both incidents, the damage was mostly to roofs, farming equipment, barns and sheds. In Saint Benoit, winds also destroyed an historic Presbyterian church.

Lightning Death

In the early afternoon of July 4, a fast-moving line of severe thunderstorms with hail, winds and heavy rains caused extensive property damage and crop losses in the St. Lawrence Plain, as well as a death in Portneuf when lightning struck a hiker. In the Montérégie region, some farmers lost tens of millions of dollars from a pounding hailstorm.

Microburst Kills Teenage Golfer

On August 11, a violent wind/rain storm raked parts of Quebec around the supper hour, cutting power to 28,000 Hydro-Québec customers. Blainville and L’Assomption received 70 to 80 mm of rain in three hours leading to road washouts and sewer back-ups. Experts confirmed a microburst with downdraft winds of 120 km/h at Rosemère north of Montreal. At the town’s golf course more than 300 trees – some a century old – were uprooted or damaged. One fallen tree crushed and killed a teenage golfer.

All Good Warmth Must Come to an End

A remarkable string of monthly warmer-than-normal temperatures in Montreal ended November after a run of 36 straight months that began in November 2009. It is the longest positive anomaly period on record, breaking the previous stretch of 22 months through 1998 and 1999. What kept the string intact was the number of incredibly warm nights. Further, over the 12-month period from September 2011 to August 2012, Montreal recorded its warmest 12-month period since records began in 1941.

A Smoggy November?

Cooler temperatures and winds, along with some precipitation, finally ended a lengthy bout of smog in the Montreal area that started on November 14 and lasted until November 23. Hazy skies lingered for more than a week with pollution from vehicles, industry and burning wood contributing to the soupy mix. The absence of any change in weather, unusual for that time of year, allowed the impurities to accumulate in the atmosphere for days under a dome of persistent high pressure.