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Canada's Top Ten Weather Stories for 2007
Regional Weather Highlights
Will It Ever Stop Snowing in St. John's?
With five storms in a month, snow was piling so deeply in Eastern Newfoundland that road crews were running out of places to put it. The latest blast on February 19 caused havoc for drivers, pedestrians and air travelers. Up to 40 cm of snow coupled with winds gusting in excess of 100 km/h buried cars on several highways, hampering clean-up. Every school and just about every business closed. Taxis and buses were pulled off the streets and Canada Post cancelled delivery. In St. John's, more than 200 cm of snow fell during January and February.
Sheila's Blush Storm
Just when Maritimers thought the worst of winter was behind them, a mid-March storm coated the region in a layer of crusty snow and ice, followed by hours of rain. Southern New Brunswick received between 10 and 20 cm of snow, 35 to 40 mm of rain and 5 to 10 hours of freezing rain for good measure. Water pooled on many city streets proving treacherous for motorists and pedestrians alike. At Grand Etang, Nova Scotia wind gusts were clocked at 146 km/h.
Christmas at Easter
Across the Maritimes, it looked more like Christmas morning than Easter Sunday after a storm blanketed the region in snow. April was proving to be the snowiest month of winter-spring 2007. In Moncton, the city pulled its large snow ploughs and tractors out of storage to clear the streets. At Halifax, hundreds of travelers at the International Airport struggled with delays and cancelled flights. Residents of Prince Edward Island woke up on Easter morning to more than 30 cm of snow whipped into blizzard-like conditions by gusty 90 km/h winds, causing countless Easter Sunday church services to be cancelled. The storm continued to Newfoundland and Labrador dropping up to 30 cm of snow in snow-squall conditions.
Winter's Last Gasp
A week after Easter, a powerful nor'easter plummeted Atlantic Canada after battering the northeastern United States, eastern Ontario and western and southern Quebec. With fierce winds in Saint John, New Brunswick gusting up to 80 km/h and 60 mm of rain, things not bolted down were blown around like toys. Environment Canada issued a storm surge warning with localized flooding for much of Nova Scotia's Atlantic coast owing to strong easterly winds combined with high spring tides.
Summer's First Day - Wet and Windy
On June 22, a weather bomb and storm surge hammered mainland Nova Scotia with torrential downpours of 50 mm in less than 30 minutes and frequent lightning strikes, creating havoc in several counties. In Lunenburg, hail the size of cherries was scooped up by the shovel full. On Shubenacadie's main street, motorists waded into knee-deep water after their cars stalled. Water lay on provincial highways, making passing dangerous.
Year of New Brunswick Tornadoes
A powerful windstorm with an embedded tornado struck the Petitcodiac-Salisbury area of New Brunswick on June 26. Environment Canada confirmed the blast was a tornado after interviewing eyewitnesses and examining damages. The storm knocked down trees and hurled pieces of playground equipment and wheelbarrows long distances. In one incident, the twister picked up a trampoline from a front lawn and threw it 18 metres into a pasture. It also hurled two cast iron rockers (weighing more than 50 kg each) about the same distance.
On August 3, a huge summer storm rolled across northern New Brunswick cutting power for hours. Residents suspected a tornado which Environment Canada later confirmed as a F2-intensity in the White Rapids area. The destruction of several farm buildings coupled with the cyclone signature that was recognized on the Doppler radar led officials to confirm a tornado. Besides the wind, rain and lightning, hailstones the size of ice-cubes pelted Blackville in the Miramichi.
Acadian Wind Blast
On August 9, gale-force winds from a passing storm inflicted extensive damage across the Acadian Peninsula of New Brunswick and in Prince Edward Island. Damaging winds clocked at 130 to 140 km/h around the Northumberland Strait left 2,000 residents without power and closed the Confederation Bridge to most traffic for 10 hours. The windstorm led Fisheries and Oceans Canada to postpone the start of the lobster fishing season for two days. The pounding surf damaged several boats and wharves, and one fisher lost 80 traps.
Family of Waterspouts in PEI
Several residents in Westmoreland and Argyle Shore on Prince Edward Island spotted dozens of offshore waterspouts on August 19. Waterspouts derive their energy from warm water; making landfall they quickly dissipate. Good-sized waterspouts have been known to flip small boats. At Charlottetown Airport, a weather observer reported marble-sized hail and several distant funnel clouds.
September Flash Floods on Cape Breton Island
Following intense rains of 64 mm over two days on the Labour Day weekend, several washouts occurred on roads and highways across Cape Breton Island. Repair costs exceeded $2 million. A week later, a section of road between Christmas Island and Big Beach collapsed under the force of fast-rushing water following another deluge of 75 mm. Later in the month, there were at least three more days with an excess of 25 mm of rain for a monthly total of 185 mm. Flooding caused numerous washouts, crumbling asphalt and slumped soil.
Hurricane-Strength Winds across Labrador
Powerful winds swept across central and coastal Labrador on September 20, leaving a trail of destruction. In Happy Valley-Goose Bay, winds reached 117 km/h, just shy of the September record. At their peak, the winds created sand clouds that barreled along streets, reducing visibility for drivers and pedestrians. Winds blew away roofs and siding, and toppled hundreds of trees leading to widespread power outages.
Halifax's Record Wet Summer
It was hard to imagine a more miserable summer for residents of Halifax. June-to-August rainfall totals amounted to 559 mm, nearly double the normal total for summer and beating the record set in 1985 by 45 mm. Dry days in June and July numbered only 16 of 61. Summer weekends were especially wet and gloomy. Of the 36 weekend days and holiday Mondays from May 19 to September 3 only 10 were dry and only two of 16 weekends were without rain.
A Couple of Weather Bombs
On January 20, an intense low pressure system moved up the Eastern Seaboard bringing as much as 90 cm of snow to the Gaspé region. The storm exploded into a "weather bomb" with winds that blew snow around, causing whiteouts and massive drifts. It was the season's first big storm, adding to the driving treachery. A peak wind gust exceeding 120 km/h occurred at Heath-Point on Anticosti Island.
During the first week of April, a low pressure system over the Great Lakes slowly entered southern Quebec. The depression combined forces with a powerful nor'easter blowing in from New England. The hybrid system carried in a lot of moisture that generated significant amounts of snow - up to 100 cm in the mountainous region of Charlevoix. Gaspé got close to 40 cm of snow. The presence of strong wind with snow and rain produced zero visibility in areas between Levis and Montmagny along Highway 20, forcing many vehicles off the road. Less than 10 cm of snow fell in the Greater Montreal region but the thick, wet, heavy slush made getting around by car or on foot tricky. The storm left more than 150,000 Quebecers without power. Many of those affected lived in the Laurentides and in the Lanaudiere regions. Visibility was also reduced on many Quebec roads and highways. Four people were killed and ten others were injured, three of them seriously, after a minibus transporting poultry workers slammed into a tractor-trailer in Ste. Genevieve, QC.
Non-Stop Arctic Warming
The northern Quebec community of Kuujjuaq recorded an incredible string of 25 consecutive months with above-normal temperatures from February 2005 to February 2007, inclusive.
Flash Flooding in the Outaouais
On July 19-20, a slow-moving Atlantic weather system packing copious rains crossed the Appalachian Mountains and soaked the St. Lawrence Valley and neighbouring Ottawa Valley. The storm flooded farm fields and washed out sections of a highway in western Quebec, creating a gully that halted the popular Hull-to-Wakefield steam train. In Quebec's Pontiac region, police closed part of Highway 303 when 100 mm of rain washed out 100 metres of pavement. The storm also took out several century-old trees. Across the Ottawa River, the downpour caused widespread damages with some unofficial rain gauges collecting more than 170 mm of rain. The downpour floated bales of hay and eroded gravel roads.
Only a Microburst
Early evening on July 27, a powerful tornado-like storm ripped through the Vaudreuil-Soulanges-Huntingdon area. It lasted about 15 minutes and was accompanied by golf-ball size hail, more than 30 mm of rain and winds exceeding 75 km/h. Stronger gusts snapped hydroelectric poles, uprooted century-old trees and brought down a communications tower. Environment Canada confirmed that the storm was not the twisting variety, but an equally strong microburst - a sudden, intense downdraft of air that occurs over a small area.
Deadly Flash Flood
On August 8-9, a low-pressure system moved into central Quebec and intensified rapidly. In the Gaspé, the storm dropped between 80 to 115 mm of rain in 12 hours. Gusty winds blew at 93 km/h. The storm produced the worst flooding in decades, washing away three bridges and damaging two others, isolating parts of the peninsula and sweeping away several trailer homes and sheds. An elderly couple living by the river in Rivière-au-Renard drowned in the flash flood. Firefighters and police evacuated residents with rowboats and Zodiac inflatable craft. In some situations, they had to swim in high floodwaters to rescue people.
La Tuque's Mighty Wind
On August 12-13, a severe storm passed about 60 km north of La Tuque, producing a weak F0 tornado that pushed a cottage off its foundation and tore half the roof. Winds tossed a rowboat several metres away and uprooted or knocked down 50 to 75 mature trees. Hail 2 to 4 cm in diameter pounded La Tuque. Damages extended over a corridor approximately 1 km long and barely 35 metres wide.
Rideau Canal Skating Near Perfect
On March 12, the Rideau Canal skateway in Ottawa closed its 37th season because of mild temperatures - just one day shy of the longest season in 2004. The world's longest skating rink saw 45 consecutive days of skating after opening later than usual because of unusually mild weather. The balmy weather in December and January had some people wondering whether the canal would open at all. But with a second half of January cold snap and modern ice-making techniques, the ice thickened quickly and the Canal opened for skating on February 2. The persistent deep-freeze helped to create super ice-growing conditions.
Snow - Finally - But Way Too Much
In Sault Ste. Marie, more than 100 cm of snow fell during the first 10 days of February, including two record-breaking 24-hour blizzards three days apart. Frigid Arctic air crossed over the still warm waters of Lake Superior, and the result was a perpetual snow machine for several days. Farther south in the Georgian Bay and Lake Huron snowbelts, some claimed it was too much snow too late. Some places were buried in the greatest dump of snow ever experienced in February, making getting to the ski hills risky and impossible at times.
March Roars in Like a Lion
The first week of March brought with it a storm that raced from Windsor to Ottawa. The weather featured everything: heavy snow, ice pellets, rain, freezing rain and some accompanying thunder and lightning. Adding to the misery were some strong gusty winds that drove the stinging mixture into the faces of pedestrians and reduced visibility to zero for motorists. Those opting for public transit faced long waits and a 30-minute commute took three hours. The weather forced delays or cancellations to more than 100 flights at Toronto's Pearson International Airport. Students across rural Ontario stayed home when buses were cancelled. Kingston schools closed for only the third time in the last 30 years. Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack cancelled its evening races and the University of Toronto shut its doors. Even Pizza Pizza stopped guaranteeing deliveries within a certain time. The hardest-hit area was in Clinton, Strathroy and Walkerton, near where the storm claimed the lives of two young children and left their mother in serious condition following a horrific crash. With strong winds and a thick glaze coating everything in sight, dozens of hydro poles toppled, plunging about 80,000 customers into darkness. In some darkened communities, power stayed off for up to a week.
CN Tower's Falling Ice Chunks
During a wild wind storm, sheets of ice - some 2 cm thick and the size of table tops - blew off the CN Tower and other buildings in the heart of downtown Toronto. Ice chunks fell at speeds up to 360 km/h from more than 300 metres onto the Gardiner Expressway below. The falling ice damaged several parked cars, cracked windshields and dented roofs. Fortunately, no injuries were reported and most pedestrians seemed unfazed. One downtown hotel supplied guests with hardhats for the dangerous walk outside. Experts said this was the first time in the CN Tower's history that ice had built up on the structure. Winds gusting to 65 km/h smeared a wet snow-rain mixture across the concrete walls where it froze in a flash freeze. Direct sunlight began melting the mass and helped by the wind, chunks of ice began breaking off the tower's frozen concrete walls.
Cobourg Whiteout and Fiery Crash
On February 1, two people were killed and a dozen injured in a fiery vehicle pileup in the eastbound lanes of Highway 401 near Cobourg. The accident closed the highway in both directions. At least three transport trucks and 15 vehicles slammed into one another along the snowy stretch of road at around 12:20 p.m. Intolerable heat from a tanker blaze initially kept paramedics from the scene. The multitude of crashes occurred in whiteout and snow squall conditions near Lake Ontario.
Highway 400 Whiteouts
On March 5, powerful winds whipped old and new snow into blinding whiteouts north of Toronto closing stretches of Highway 400 between Toronto and Barrie. One chain-reaction crash involved 75 cars, trucks, semi-trailers and a casino bus. Rescuers tried for hours to free two men who were trapped in mangled steel. Rural roads were treacherous, blocked by deep snow piled by strong gales and blizzard conditions. Officials halted school bus service, forcing parents to fetch their children. Even snow ploughs were taken off the roads.
Rare Winter Lightning Death
On March 22, lightning killed a worker and injured another as they repaired the roof of a high school in Parry Sound. Environment Canada had issued a rainfall warning for the surrounding area and a caution about isolated thunderstorms. A lightening death in March is a rarity in Canada.
A Drencher in the North
On May 30, a slow-moving weather system stalled near Lake of the Woods for several days. Thunderstorms persisted for hours dropping record high rainfalls in places like Kenora (106.4 mm), Armstrong (76.8 mm) and Kapuskasing (72.8 mm).
Storms Leave Thousands in the Dark
On April 23, power was knocked out in areas from Windsor to Ottawa as a ferocious thunderstorm battered the southern half of the province. The brief but intense storm featured wind speeds up to 100 km/h and torrential rains. Hydro poles across the Greater Toronto Area snapped like twigs, leaving power lines dangling. Rush-hour traffic stalled when scores of traffic lights went out of service.
On June 8, the south got hit again as a fast-moving storm downed countless trees and power lines across the area. There were unconfirmed reports of funnel clouds near Brantford and Hamilton. With winds gusting above 100 km/h, the storm blew down huge trees, power lines and branches, leaving at least 130,000 Ontarians without power.
Winter's First Blast
On November 22, freezing rain and snow played a role in at least two highway deaths as the first major storm of the winter smacked the south. A crash-a-minute during the morning rush-hour was the going rate, not that unusual for the first winter storm. The combination of freezing rain mixed with snow and ice pellets in Arctic air created chaos on the roads, forcing temporary closures of many major highways. Several school boards north and east of Toronto cancelled buses. Toronto took the unusual step of issuing an extreme cold weather alert fearing homeless people had not yet acclimatized to sub-zero temperatures.
Snowbound in Churchill
Around the first of February, crews worked to free a freight train stuck for several days in a five-metre-high snowbank south of Churchill, Manitoba. The incident tied up the rail link between the northern town and the rest of the province. Perishable food was spoiled in the cars that sat idle in the -50 wind chill.
Now That's Cold
On February 5, the temperature in Winnipeg plummeted to -42.2°C - the coldest day in the city in 31 years. With wind chill values dipping below -50, exposed flesh froze in less than two minutes leading to several cases of frostbite and hypothermia. Manitobans in six communities braved record-breaking cold. The brutal temperatures killed many car batteries, squared tires and forced the cancellation of several school bus services. Tragically, two firefighters died of injuries battling a house fire. Exhaust from the crowd of emergency vehicles shrouded the scene in an icy fog.
A Deadly Search for Help in Saskatchewan
A 49-year-old woman died on February 16 near St. Brieux, Saskatchewan when the pickup truck she was in became stuck in snow. She died after leaving the vehicle in search of help during the raging blizzard and was at least the sixth person to perish in Saskatchewan in just over a month from cold weather.
On March 2, a nasty winter storm dumped huge amounts of snow in southern sections of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, leaving roads icy and snow-covered. Stretches of several highways were closed by provincial authorities. Snowfall totals ranged from 20 cm east of Regina and in Weyburn to 30 cm near Brandon, Manitoba. Whirling whiteouts created by a snowplow played a role in a crash that sent a bus driver and 12 passengers to hospital near Brandon. The RCMP closed the Trans-Canada after several semi-trailer trucks slid off the icy pavement.
A Snowy Spring Surprise
After the long weekend in May, Albertans had to haul out their winter boots and shovels to deal with the unexpected arrival of snow. A sudden storm downed power lines and trees, cutting power to thousands of homes and businesses and damaging cars and buildings in Red Deer, Calgary and other communities in west-central Alberta. The soggy mess slowed traffic to a crawl and prompted some school boards to cancel classes for tens of thousands of students. The snow broke tree branches, brought down power lines and caused brief outages of electricity in several areas overnight. Calgarians woke up to 10 cm of heavy snow - a record for that date. Gardeners and golfers grumbled at the sight of a white cover over green grass.
Tragic Death from Lightning
On June 16, a man was killed and six others were injured by lightning as they tried to take shelter from the weather on Pigeon Lake, Alberta. A thunderstorm sent boaters and fishers fleeing for cover, including one group that docked at the boat launch and took refuge under some trees. Suddenly, a lightning bolt arced down and struck the stand of poplars they were using as shelter. Bark was ripped off the trees in long strips and smoke rose from the branches. Seven victims were left unconscious and one lay dead. Adding to the tragedy, the victim's pregnant wife lost her baby in a miscarriage. The foothills around Pigeon Lake, west of Red Deer, are one of the most lightning-prone areas in Canada.
Beginning on June 17, Saskatoon got 102 mm of rain in 24 hours - about 67 per cent more than the normal total for June. The intense rains caused storm sewers to overflow, stranding motorists and filling basements with a metre of water. Several home alarm systems went off, triggered by the extreme moisture.
Between August 17 and 19, a couple of severe thunderstorms ripped through Saskatchewan. In Saskatoon, "plough winds" blustering at over 110 km/h tore roofs off homes, sent golf carts and barbecues through the air and uprooted trees. Shingles covered lawns, heavy planters were overturned and several windows were blown out. Residents also faced torrents of water. Upwards of 100 mm of rain fell on the city over 36 hours, causing water to flow through basement windows or gurgle up from drains. In some intersections, man-hole covers shot 2 metres into the air. Firefighters and police evacuated more than 20 families. Outside Saskatoon, near Langham, 140 mm of rain fell during the two storms. The deluge washed out a two-kilometre section of Highway 16 that cost $8 million to reconstruct.
Anniversary of Tornado Marked by Another
A tornado hit near Cupar, Saskatchewan, on July 31 - the same day the last one hit the area 61 years ago. The storm left at least one family homeless after destroying their entire farm. The strong winds also flipped many vehicles, downed trees and flattened buildings. In one case, a giant combine was picked up and tossed 300 metres into a field. In another, high winds blew so much straw into a house that it reached halfway up the refrigerator. Steel grain silos were strewn about the yard and a log barn built in 1935 was reduced to a roof on top of a pile of wood.
Hell of A Hailer
A massive storm on August 9 swept through Winnipeg, bringing winds gusting up to 100 km/h and nickel- to loonie-sized hail. North of Winnipeg, several trees in Birds Hill Park were brought down by the intense thunderstorm. Campers abandoned their tents and waited out the storm in cars or washrooms. The hail left fist-sized holes in countless homes, stores and vehicles. Even the 'golden arches' outside a popular fast-food restaurant received hail damage.
Weather No Match for Die-hard Fans
An unstable weather system that created flooding in central Saskatchewan delayed a Canadian Football League game in Regina between the Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders for 58 minutes on August 18. With distant lightning flashing most of the evening, an overhead white-hot flash at 10:36 p.m. convinced the head referee to order players and officials to their dressing rooms. Minutes later the stadium went dark and some in the sellout crowd of 28,800 made their way to the exits. About an hour later, the skies cleared and the game resumed. Nearly 15,000 fans waited out the storm and were rewarded with a Riders' victory.
Powerful Prairie Windstorm
A fierce wind storm that slammed British Columbia on November 12 stayed intact the next day to batter the three Prairie provinces. Areas free of snow were turned into a swirling dust bowl of debris. Loud winds stronger than 120 km/h kept people awake at night and without power in the morning. Even in areas where damage was light, work crews were kept busy cleaning up debris from downed trees and power lines. In Alberta, winds fanned grass fires causing a highway closure in the east-central part of the province and ripped the roof off a popular lodge west of Calgary. In Saskatchewan, the strong erratic winds shut down large turbines on a wind farm around Swift Current and caused the RCMP to close a highway bypass in the south after blowing dirt caused restricted visibility. Some residents could feel the winds pushing their vehicles as they drove to work. As bad as the winds were, it could have been much worse if the storm had included a lot of snow. The howling winds continued into Manitoba, spoiling what had been a record high temperature of 17.4°C for Winnipeg on November 13.
Year of the Avalanche
Avalanches, mud, snow, heavy rain and rock slides wreaked havoc on the Trans-Canada Highway through the British Columbia Mountains for much of the winter and spring seasons. One expert called it the worst conditions in 25 years. In early January, a heavy snowfall around Revelstoke and Golden, British Columbia forced the closure of the Highway at several points, effectively shutting down all travel west of Banff, Alberta. A snow slide sent snow debris two metres deep and 150 metres long across the Highway and another swath over the rail line. The storm featured high winds and mild temperatures - a perfect recipe for creating slat-like snow conditions that elevated the avalanche danger to high throughout most of the Rockies.
BC Dome Deflates
On January 5, the huge, Teflon-coated fibreglass dome-roof of BC Place Stadium - a massive marshmallow-like covering that stands out on the Vancouver skyline - gave way under mushy, wet snow. The heavy snow and rain, along with strong winds, caused a rip in the piece of fabric that made up its 10-acre surface. Winds caught the massive tear in the inflated roof and ripped away a panel. As a precaution, stadium workers deflated the rest of the fabric roof in about four minutes.
More Wind in a Record Windy Winter
On January 9, another fierce storm swept through British Columbia claiming one life and trapping dozens of people in their vehicles. The storm was the fourteenth blast to hit BC's Pacific coast in just two and a half months. Parts of the Lower Mainland got 30 to 40 cm of snow. Blowing snow and wind shut down highways across the Lower Mainland and in the interior. The wind, which gusted above 100 km/h at Race Rocks, produced waterspouts between Saltspring Island and Galiano Island. Strong winds also closed Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver and knocked down more trees in already storm-ravaged Stanley Park. Power was knocked out in Langley for 48 hours, leaving 400 people stuck in mobile homes without light or heat.
Crabby Vancouverites … Blame the Weather
Everyone in the Lower Mainland seemed miserable, grouchy and fed up with the weather. March rainfall was double the norm and sunshine totals only half. In the first 24 days of March, less than an hour of sunshine per day occurred on 16 days and only three days were dry. On March 11, heavy rainfall drenched Vancouver, thanks to a tropical weather system known as the Pineapple Express. More than 50 mm of rain fell in a 30-hour period. The Alouette River in Maple Ridge burst its banks and the Coquitlam River rose to its highest water level in 10 years.
Not A Tornado, Just a Big Gust
On June 29, a vicious wind storm ripped through the southeastern British Columbia Interior injuring 10 persons, un-roofing buildings and splintering trees. Wind speeds reached 110 km/h at the Cranbrook Airport. The storm cut a swath through the town from one end to the other, tearing off siding and roofs including the local RCMP detachment.
Strange July Weather
During the first half of July, temperatures soared all over Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, as sun lovers basked under blue skies and unrelenting sunshine. On July 11,Victoria registered the highest temperature since record-keeping began at the Airport, climbing to 36.3°C. Victorians also experienced the hottest night ever on July 12 when the temperature dropped to a balmy 19.6°C, beating the high minimum of 18.3°C set in 1944. The same day, Gonzales weather station recorded 36°C, the hottest temperature ever taken at the site since it started collecting data in 1898. Victoria was one of five BC communities to set all-time records, along with Chilliwack (the hot spot at 38.8°C), Abbotsford (37.9°C), Squamish (37.6°C) and White Rock (36°C). Seventeen other communities broke specific temperature records for July 11. The soaring heat prompted BC Hydro to ask the owners of buildings in Vancouver's downtown core to cut back on their energy use, particularly during peak hours.
Following the two-week heat spell, the weather turned surprisingly nasty with seven straight days of rain, cool and gloomy conditions, and a few occurrences of fog. Never before has the Greater Victoria area had such a persistence of rain in July. Vancouver also broke an all-time wet-weather record for July with seven consecutive days of rain. For both locations, this is usually the driest part of the year.
What follows two days of rain? Monday!
In Vancouver, more than half the rain in May, June, and July fell on a Saturday or Sunday. Last year, out of the 122 mm of rain that fell in that same three-month period, only 21 mm (17 per cent of the total), fell on a weekend. For long weekend days from late May to early September 2007, 22 of 36 days were wet and only 3 of 16 weekends were fully dry.
Wind Storm Kills Kayakers
On October 7, parts of coastal British Columbia experienced gusty winds, with the strongest peaking at 140 km/h off the northwest tip of Vancouver Island. The storm led to power failures, downed trees and the death of two experienced kayakers in Howe Sound. Eight kayakers began the trek by paddling in pounding rain and gusty winds. Suddenly, one of the double kayaks capsized into the freezing water with two-metre high swells. Four people ended up in the cold waters suffering severe hypothermia. For two of the kayakers, rescue came too late. The adventurers wore life vests, but were all poorly dressed for the weather and water conditions.
A Windy November
High winds battered extensive regions in British Columbia on November 12, leaving more than 200,000 people without power, some for days, and stranding thousands of airplane and ferry passengers as they tried to return home after the Remembrance Day long weekend. BC Hydro crews struggled to patch more than 550 separate power failures - over half of which were in the Lower Mainland. The storm cut land and cellular telephone services to thousands. Wind gusts exceeded 130 km/h along the coast, and snow and mudslides blocked several roads and highways. Among the hardest-hit areas were Langley, Surrey, Delta and Richmond. Windsurfers flocked to the beaches to enjoy high waves and rough surf. Skiers headed to Whistler-Blackcomb where another 20 cm of snow prompted the resort to open the season early. BC Ferries halted sailings on all but one major route.
Nechako River Ice Jam Floods Prince George
A 6-km ice jam, the largest in 10 years, caused the Nechako River in Prince George, British Columbia to break its banks during the middle of December. The flood threat persisted for more than a week forcing the evacuation of 13 families from river homes and dozens of businesses including several saw mills and a fish hatchery. The ice formed early in December when cold air around -30°C persisted. When temperatures started to moderate, the ice turned soft and slushy and started to move backing up the flow of the Nechako River where it meets the Fraser River. Water level rose half a metre although it fluctuated making flood projections uncertain. One veteran mill operator said that he had never seen flooding as bad as that in three decades. Prince George declared a local state of emergency as work crews built a snow dam and filled sand bags to block water flow for a 3-km stretch of the river.
Arctic Rescues in Nasty Weather
On January 3, three fishing lodge employees died when a bush plane from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories went down in restricted weather. Miraculously, a fourth person survived the crash and the 19-hour wait until rescuers could arrive. His survival was aided by temperatures of -16°C, mild for that time of year in the North.
On February 20, an Aboriginal hunter in Parry Peninsula, Northwest Territories went adrift on an Arctic ice floe when winds caused his land tether to break. His wife and an American tourist from Las Vegas watched helplessly. It was below -50°C with the wind chill. A Canadian Forces helicopter search and rescue team made a daring jump onto the ice floe and stayed with the stranded hunter overnight. The next day he was back hunting polar bears.
It's the Canada Winter Games… Expect Cold!
The 2007 Canada Winter Games brought thousands of athletes and visitors to Whitehorse in late February, most of whom had never experienced extreme cold. Temperatures varied from daily highs of -20°C to nightly lows of -36°C. At times, wind chills dipped to -50 - brutal cold even for the Yukon. Officials scrambled to re-schedule competitions by pushing start times into the afternoon or shortening races. A testament to the incredible stamina of competitors, all but one athlete who started the 10-kilometre sprint finished. Some competitors put white tape across their cheeks and noses to ward off frostbite. While some sports records fell during the competition, no weather records were eclipsed. The coldest morning was on February 24, with a temperature of -36.7°C. Snowfall was heavy for the month with 39.2 cm, more than double the average and the second heaviest on record. Including traces, there was snow everyday during the Canada Winter Games.
Worst Weather on Earth!
In April, after nine days of slogging through blinding daily blizzards and at times measuring their progress by inches, eight members of the Canadian Forces' Arctic sovereignty patrol ended their mission between Eureka and Alert, along a route believed never to have been taken before. They traveled by snowmobile in temperatures of -50°C and winds that regularly exceeded 100 km/h. The team was one of three that traveled a combined 5,589 kilometres over 17 days to assert Canadian sovereignty in the North. The biting winds and blowing snow meant it took up to two hours just to put up tents, and a simple task like putting gasoline into a snowmobile became an ordeal.
Caribou Hit by Lightning
Conservation officers in Arviat, Nunavut suspected 13 caribou found dead near the community were killed by lightning in early July. The animals died within 50 metres of each other, about 10 km outside the hamlet, at about the time there was a series of rare lightning strikes in the area.
A Northern Gully Washer
Around July 21, an intense rainstorm occurred in the community of Kugluktuk (formerly Coppermine), Nunavut. The incredible two-day rainfall totaled 178.2 mm: 55.2 mm on July 20 and 118.3 mm on July 21. An analysis of extreme rainfall intensities concluded that this was an impressive 500-year event. Engineers designing water management systems and infrastructure were in a quandary as to deciding what the new storm for planning drainage systems in the future should be.
Eureka Feels the Heat
On July 22, the maximum temperature at Eureka, Nunavut soared to 20°C, tying the all-time record set on July 11, 2003. The next day, however, the afternoon temperature rose to 20.7°C establishing a new record high.
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