Damage from a tornado is seen in Dunrobin, Ont., west of Ottawa on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Damage from a tornado is seen in Dunrobin, Ont., west of Ottawa on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Environment Canada meteorologist says 2018 was ‘smorgasbord’ of bad events

Smoky skies, countrywide heat wave lead Environment Canada’s Top 10 weather list

Choking from smoke, sweltering in the heat or cursing early or late snow, Canadians could be forgiven for asking just what the heck happened to the weather in 2018.

“It was almost a smorgasbord of everything that could go wrong,” said David Phillips, senior climate scientist for Environment Canada. “I don’t think there was anything missing.”

Phillips has been compiling Top 10 lists for 23 years and he says the weather is not as cut and dried as it used to be. Here are his top events for 2018:

1. Smoky skies: Driven by hot, dry conditions, the number of fires was higher than last year and the area burned was double the 25-year averages. Smoke from wildfires in British Columbia and down the Pacific Coast to California darkened skies and soured air for more than 10 million Canadians.

2. Canada and the global heat wave: It was hot from coast to coast. Canada Day in Ottawa was the second-warmest in more than 130 years. Three Saskatchewan cities broke all-time records with temperatures into the 40s C. In Quebec, 93 people died from heat-related causes.

3. Spring and fall disappear: The coldest April on record slammed into the hottest-ever May. A few months later, the Prairie harvest ground to a halt when 30 centimetres of snow fell in some areas in September and October.

4. Billion-dollar windstorm: Hundreds of thousands in Quebec and Ontario were left without power in May as 120-km/h winds snapped power poles, damaged homes and hurled tree branches into vehicles like armour-piercing spears. The clean-up tab is estimated at more than $1 billion.

5. Ottawa tornadoes: A series of tornadoes tore up the boundary region between Ontario and Quebec on Sept. 21. One of them was the most powerful recorded anywhere in North America last summer. Insurance costs are expected to be about $307 million.

6. British Columbia floods: A snowpack nearly twice the norm, a wet spring and high late-spring temperatures produced flooding in several river valleys in southern B.C. Almost 5,000 people were forced from their homes by river levels not seen in 50 years.

7. Fast flooding in New Brunswick: Floods on the Saint John River are an old story, but even old-timers were surprised by the speed of the water in 2018. Deep snow, heavy rains and sudden heat created the largest, most damaging flood in modern New Brunswick history down river of Fredericton in April and May. The Reversing Falls stopped reversing.

8. Toronto’s tiny, perfect storm: On Aug. 7, a compact storm dumped 58 millimetres of rain downtown and 72 millimetres on Toronto Island, while the suburbs and the airport got almost nothing. Two men nearly drowned in an underground parking elevator and Blue Jays baseball fans got rained on despite the closed roof at Rogers Centre.

9. Cold start, long winter: Six months of it. Albertans faced wind-chill cold of -45 C on New Year’s Eve. In early January, Toronto was colder than Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T.

10. The cruellest month: Nationally, it was the coldest April in 16 years and in 71 years if you lived through it in Ontario and Quebec. In those provinces the misery was compounded with up to 12 centimetres of freezing rain, snow and ice pellets. Windows on Parliament Hill were smashed. The CN Tower was closed after Rogers Centre was bombed by ice falling from the tower.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pixabay image
Surrey recovers 29,000 jobs it lost to pandemic

That’s according to Surrey Board of Trade’s fifth Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Report on COVID-19

Delta City Hall. (James Smith photo)
Volunteers sought for City of Delta committees

Applications are due by Friday, Feb. 5

(James Smith photo)
North Delta crime beat, week of Jan. 11

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

The SACH Community Hub team, from left to right: Upkar Singh Tatlay, Gary Thandi, Allysha Ram, Jassy Pandher, Harman Pander. (Submitted photo)
There’s help for South Asian men wrestling with drug addiction in Surrey

South Asian deaths related to toxic drugs increased by 255 per cent between 2015 and 2018

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) is looking into the death of man discovered Jan. 11 in east Maple Ridge. (Black Press files)
B.C.’s police watchdog investigating man’s death in Maple Ridge

Man was found dead Jan. 11 after recent contact with police

Chilliwack Law Courts. (Black Press file)
Man sentenced to 20 months for sexual offences involving a minor in Mission

Will Laws Clark was 22 and victim was 13 at time offences began

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

The Abbotsford Tulip Festival is permanently closing, with plans to eventually set up in Armstrong, B.C. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford Tulip Festival is closing, with plans to rebloom in Armstrong

Event organizer says pandemic and sale of land were factors in decision

Most Read