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Canada's Top Ten Weather Stories for 2008

Table of Contents

Regional Weather Highlights 2008

Quebec

The Snowy Gaspé
The Gaspé region of Quebec lived up to its reputation as a snowy area. Storm after storm dumped heavy snowfalls on the peninsula. Seasonal snowfall amounted to 482 cm. On January 15, an intense winter storm brought upwards of 50 cm of new and blowing snow to the eastern Gaspé. On February 2, another intense low-pressure system south of the Great Lakes moved slowly northeastward, dropping heavy snows in eastern Quebec, including more than 46 cm of snow in one day in the city of Gaspé. Because of the storm, dozens of flights were cancelled at the airports in Montréal and Quebec City, and the opening celebrations for the 54th edition of the Québec Winter Carnival had to be postponed. February's total snowfall of 126 cm made it the snowiest on record in the Gaspé since 1968.

March More Winter Than Spring
During March, 143.8 cm of snow fell in Mont-Joli, more than double the average snowfall for the month. It was the snowiest March in Mont-Joli since 1943. Also, with a total snowfall of 152 cm at the Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport and 109 cm at Bagotville, it was the second snowiest March in 65 years at both sites.

April Dry Changes to April Floods
Most of April featured warm, sunny days and a long stretch of dry weather across Quebec. Total precipitation was less than half of normal, pleasing winter-weary Quebecers. At the end of the month, however, April showers came in torrents. The prospect of swollen rivers and oozing mudslides forced dozens of Quebecers in the Charlevoix region and in suburbs of Quebec City out of their homes. Among the waterlogged communities were Trois-Rivières and Saint-André-Avellin, north of Montebello in western Quebec. The Petite Nation River rose a metre, flooding 90 homes and forcing 20 families to flee. Authorities distributed 9,000 sandbags. Some residents used boats to get around. At Saint André-Avellin, the flooding was likened to a flood a century ago. Rains, however, pleased farmers and gardeners and helped to reduce the risk of brush fires.

Powerful Microburst Tosses Trucks
On June 10, clashing cold and warm fronts set off a sudden and violent thunderstorm across Montréal, downing power lines, toppling century-old trees, and overturning several trucks on the Champlain Bridge. The storm ended the summer's only heat wave. With wind gusts of 111 km/h and baseball-sized hail, the tempest knocked out power to 63,000 Hydro-Québec customers on the island of Montréal and 300,000 province-wide. It also grounded numerous flights at the Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. The near-hurricane-force winds churned up the waters of the St. Lawrence River. On the Champlain Bridge, which links Montréal with the south shore, the violent wind tipped seven tractor-trailers over, injuring two people and prompting authorities to close the South Shore span during rush hour. Police received hundreds of reports of fallen trees, downed power and telephone lines, ripped roofs, and peeled aluminum siding. Experts called the violent fast-moving wind a microburst because the very high downburst in a localized area.

Waterspouts! This is Montréal not Miami
Rare cyclone-shaped waterspouts, familiar in the tropics, formed in the St. Lawrence River near Montréal on July 23. Eyewitnesses spotted numerous funnel clouds and, 70 km northeast of Montréal, a second waterspout. Fair-weather waterspouts form from convective cumulus clouds. While winds are rarely above 90 km/h, they have been known to capsize watercraft and damage waterfront properties. Although the spouts were all the buzz, it was the accompanying weather that took its toll. Winds reached 90 km/h, hail and heavy rain fell, and there was a F0 tornado report in Lanoraie. The day saw heavy rains in the Haute-Mauricie region. Excessive rains of 73 mm in 13 hours in La Tuque--flooded many basements with water and mud and damaged several roads. Summer rains had already primed the region for costly flooding. As of July 23, June–July rains were close to 65 per cent above normal; add another 167 mm over the following two weeks, and the situation became dangerous.

Pre-Halloween Storm
From October 26 to 28, two weather systems brought heavy rains to the lower St. Lawrence and the Maritimes. Only 24 hours separated the end of the first rain event and the beginning of the second, giving rivers little time to subside and soils to drain. Rainfall totals at Sept-Îles were 163.1 mm; New Carlisle, 124 mm; and Cap de la Madeleine, 101 mm. East of Sept-Îles, a portion of Highway 138 collapsed, while in Chaleur Bay, several stretches of road were flooded, forcing residents to be evacuated by helicopter. Sewers also backed up in many homes. The three-day rainfall at Sept-Îles was a new record, eclipsing the previous record of 133 mm in 1950.