Top ten weather stories for 2005: story ten

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10. BC's Tropical Punch

In mid-January, following a two-week blast of wintry weather across BC's Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, a persistent flow of record warm, moist air dubbed the "Tropical Punch" engulfed southwestern British Columbia. But more than the usual "Pineapple Express", this system originated south of Hawaii, drawing northward even wetter and warmer air from the subtropics. Temperatures soared to record levels. Abbotsford reached a balmy 18.1°C on the 19th, the highest January temperature recorded anywhere in the province since 1899. Victoria also shattered its warmest-ever January reading at 16.1°C. The system soaked the BC coast with record rain. At Tofino, on Vancouver Island, 96.8 mm of rain fell on January 17 and a phenomenal 197.2 mm the next day - both new daily records. Port Renfrew received a two-day total of 342 mm. Compounding the problem, the ground was still frozen and could not absorb the runoff as denuded slopes couldn't hold back the rushing waters.

Crews worked feverishly to free storm drains of debris and ice. Automobiles hydroplaned off streets and roads into flooded ditches; dykes ruptured; sump pumps broke down under heavy usage; and parking lots became mini-lakes. The week-long rains washed out bridges and highways and forced hundreds to flee mud-filled homes. Damages were in the tens of millions of dollars. In North Vancouver, a massive slide of mud, trees and rocks rushed down a 75-metre-high embankment, completely destroying one home and dam, killing a woman and forcing the evacuation of the neighbourhood.

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