Top ten weather stories for 2006: story ten

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10.   Election Weather Confounds Pundits

Canada's first winter general election in 25 years didn't have the face-numbing cold, hip-deep snows and blinding whiteouts that some had feared. Instead, the weather was very un-Canadian. The first few weeks of the campaign had its share of meteorological moments with slippery surfaces and zero visibility. At times on the Prairies, -40 wind chills halted door-to-door canvassing and few lawn signs could be put into the "permafrost." Before winter's first day, candidates in southern Ontario and Quebec grappled with poor driving conditions and election signs buried by huge snowfalls or passing snowplows.

By the January leg of the campaign, however, unseasonably warm and dry weather prevailed, encouraging voters to the advance polls in droves with a 25 per cent increase over those voting early in the June 2004 general election. On Election Day, January 23, weather featured conservative amounts of precipitation and liberal degrees of warmth. Parts of Quebec and Ontario had skiffs of snow, while some areas of British Columbia - including Vancouver - got rain or drizzle. An unusual warm front crossed southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, bringing above-freezing temperatures. Newfoundland was cold and windy, but sunny. Where weather was a factor, residents still rose to the occasion and voted. When a blizzard struck tiny Tuktoyaktuk, NT, voters came by snowmobile or truck. One New Brunswick voter hiked past huge chunks of ice blocking a road, where a friend waited to pick him up. In the end, 65 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot - an improvement from a record low of 60.9 per cent in our last general election.


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