Canada's Top Ten Weather Stories for 2008

Table of Contents

Regional Weather Highlights 2008

The North

Lights Out for the Eclipse
Around February 22, people in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, endured temperatures of around -30°C for almost a week with minimal electricity, when two generators shut down and rotating blackouts were imposed. Furnaces, appliances and computers had to be used sparingly. With no power for block heaters, vehicles were left running all night. About 10 percent of Rankin's homes froze solid. The darkened town allowed an unequalled view of the lunar eclipse.

Survivors on Their Own
On May 1, two parents left Repulse Bay, Nunavut, on a 250-km trek to Hall Beach. They pulled their five children including a one-year-old infant on a sled behind a snowmobile. On the second day, the family got lost in poor weather that lasted for most of a week: freezing rain and swirling snow, whiteouts, and a -14°C wind chill. Continuing poor visibility forced rescuers to put off an air search for the missing family. Ground searchers combed the tundra on snowmobile, slowed by zero visibility in blizzard conditions. After a week, the lost family was found safely, out of fuel and almost out of food.

Humongous Sinkhole Opens in Nunavut
Between June 8 and 9 heavy rains of 35 mm in a 12-hour period fell near Pangnirtung, Nunavut. Combined with unseasonably warm temperatures (13.4°C or eight degrees warmer than normal) and high winds (50 to 60 km/h and gusts reaching as high as 93 km/h), the rains caused a rapid snow melt in the surrounding mountains and hills that lead to significant flooding. Although the rainfall was not a record, it was still a huge amount of water for the community. So much water flowed through the hamlet that it carved a 10-metre channel through the permafrost, right down to bedrock. The strong running water washed out a road in the community and undermined the foundations of two bridges over the Duvall River that led to their collapse, including a new span that was supposed to open this summer. Officials issued a local state of emergency. With both bridges closed, 200 residents had no access to municipal services such as water, sewage treatment and garbage dump. Elders couldn't recall a larger wall of water coming down the Duvall River. Local hunters ferried people across the river by paddling freighter canoes into the ice-free section of the fiord. Poor flying weather blocked the Nunavut government from sending emergency repair crews into the community.

Yellowknife Gully Washer
In Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, an intense 20-minute rainstorm on July 20 dumped enough hail and rain to flood streets and grounds in a metre of water. Drains were unable to keep up with the hail-chocked flow and backed up. During the peak of the storm, residents were seen canoeing across some streets. Said one long-time resident, "I've lived here 36 years, and have never seen such a hail storm as long." The golf-ball size hail forced construction workers and others to flee for cover.

Beaufort Sea Tragedy
Around July 24, members of three generations of an Inuvik family, on their way to take part in a traditional beluga whale harvest, perished after their six-metre boat capsized in the Mackenzie River north of Inuvik. The aluminum boat was swamped in rough waters, and of the five, only a boy in his early teens survived.

Record Arctic Heat Wave
From July 19 to July 24, maximum temperatures in Iqaluit, Nunavut ranged between 21° and 27°C, some 15 degrees warmer than normal. The previous all-time high temperature in the territorial capital was 26.1°C on July 29, 2003 with records covering 62 years. On July 21, the temperature soared to 26.8°C, again, some 15 degrees warmer than normal. That would be equivalent to 40°C in Toronto. At night the minimum temperature dipped to 12.6°C, which was the highest minimum temperature on record. Even more unusual was a record humidex value of 27°C.