2010 warmest year ever for Canada
Did we miss something?
Oh yeah, winter.
Last year was the warmest in Canadian history. The combination of El Nino, melting polar ice and climate change ensured the country bypassed winter almost entirely, says Environment Canada.
“Winter didn’t exist in Canada in 2010,” says David Phillips, senior climatologist.
Toronto had less than half its normal snowfall. There was no snow in November or March – a first, according to Phillips. And Ottawa, normally the snowiest national capital city in the world, had less of the white stuff than southern neighbours in Washington, DC.
The past winter could be a sign of things to come, says Phillips, as global temperatures continue to rise.
On a positive note, Torontonians saved money on heating bills and parents didn’t have to worry about entertaining their children during snow days.
Here are Phillips’ picks for the top 10 most destructive, most surprising and most newsworthy Canadian weather events of 2010:
10 – Calgary’s most expensive hailstorm ever
At 2 p.m. on July 12, hailstones the size of baseballs rocketed into downtown Calgary. The stones dropped from the sky at about 100 km/h, said Phillips, and then bounced up to a metre off the ground. The storm racked up about $400 million in damage to cars, homes and businesses.
9 – North American weather bomb
“In late October a massive and powerful fall storm muscled its way across the continent from the Dakotas and Saskatchewan to the Great Lakes and beyond,” says Phillips. The category 3 hurricane-strength storm became the second-most intense land storm in North American history. Weather advisories and warnings covered 31 states and six provinces. Saskatchewan had blizzards, Ontario had tornado watches and Manitoba had record high lake levels, which sent Lake Winnipeg cottagers scrambling for the sand bags.
8 – El Nino nixes winter
The shortest, warmest winter ever in Canada brought on a “snow drought” says Phillips. Toronto seniors enjoyed a balmy winter while chuckling at their snowbird friends bundling up in Florida. That state suffered through its coldest winter on the books.
7 – BC forest fires
Clouds of smoke travelled as far as Thunder Bay during this summer’s forest fire season in British Columbia. Next door, Alberta and Saskatchewan issued air quality warnings. It was the third costliest year ever for forest fires in BC.
6 – Saskatchewan summer storms
Residents just couldn’t get a break this summer. Hail, thunderstorms, tornadoes – Saskatchewan got blasted with everything. Mayors issued states of emergency in 172 different communities throughout the summer. “Residents were either cleaning up or watching the skies for another bout of nasty weather,” says Phillips.
5 – The storm that deflated the Metrodome
You saw it on YouTube, you read about it on the front page of the Star. A mid-December storm in Eastern North America created a “menacing, punishing” snowfall in Canada. Hip-deep snow buried 300 cars along Hwy 402 and London Line near Sarnia. RCMP, OPP and farmers spent all night rescuing people via snowmobile and helicopter. One man died of exposure. In the States, heavy snows proved too much for Minneapolis’ Metrodome. Video of the inflatable roof collapsing and spilling snow into the stadium went viral.
4 – We’re all hotties
It was the warmest winter on record in Canada. Also the warmest spring, the third warmest summer and the second warmest fall. “The warmest year on record by far,” says Phillips. Iqaluit smashed its previous record by a “remarkable” 2.5 degrees, says Phillips.
3 – Drought? Just kidding
Prairie provinces had issued a drought warning before the spring planting season because last summer was the driest in 51 years. Then it started to rain. And didn’t stop. It was the wettest growing season ever. Crop yield was down 15 per cent and 40 communities were declared farm disaster areas.
2 – Hurricane Igor
Newfoundlanders are known for their hearty approach to weather, but Hurricane Igor had them stumped, says Phillips. Sept. 20 brought 240 mm of rain and 170 km/h winds. The Canadian Forces called in 1,000 soldiers to help people in the 120 communities that were isolated because the only bridge or road into town was washed out. States of emergency were declared in 22 communities.
1 – Olympic weather
It could have been really embarrassing. Vancouver was the warmest bid city in the history of the winter Olympics. Forecasts in the weeks leading up to the Olympics predicted 43 days of rain out of 50. “The dice seemed to be loaded against the Games from a weather perspective,” says Phillips. But then: “The weather changed and so did the mood of the Games.” A big dump of snow and sunny, cool, dry weather created the ideal climate for Canadians to bring home the medals.
--Cynthia Vukets, Staff Reporter