Canada's top ten weather stories of 2007

Canadians might remember 2007 as the year that climate change began biting deep and hard on the home front. At the top of the world, the dramatic disappearance of Arctic sea ice - reported in September - was so shocking that it quickly became our number one weather story. Indeed, the United Nations declared the record loss of ice as one of the world's biggest events. The thinning and shrinking of the ice, largely a result of too many consecutive warm years, has had a profound impact on northern residents - people, plants and wildlife alike. The disappearance of water from the Great Lakes system is also a concern, especially Lake Superior where water levels in September dipped to their lowest point since measurements began in 1900. In many ways, the record loss of ice and water is more about climate than weather and underlines that climate change is beginning to affect Canada in a very real way.

At times in 2007, the West had too much weather. Residents on the Prairies witnessed a record number of severe summer weather warnings, with tornadoes, intense rainfalls, wind storms and hail storms. August's destructive hailstorm in Dauphin, Manitoba, for example, was only one of 279 hailers that affected the Prairies in 2007. Crop-hail losses approached $200 million and, for the first time, exceeded premiums. There was also an enduring high humidity on the Prairies that became unbearable and suffocating, culminating in a new Canadian record humidex of 53 set at Carman, Manitoba. On the other hand, southern Ontario had very little weather with one of its driest summers in over 50 years - part of a ten-month dry spell that lasted from January to October and produced record dry conditions in many locations in the region.

Winters at the beginning and end of the year provided stark contrasts and two more weather stories. The shocker of a green Christmas Day in 2006 in Quebec City, Timmins and Thunder Bay - where a white Christmas is all but guaranteed - turned out to be a one-year blip. For snow and ice enthusiasts, the beginning of 2007 continued the quest for winter. When it did come, while persistent, it was too late. Nature tried to make amends at the end of 2007 with some pre-winter blasts of cold, freezing rain and lots of snow, making the first half of December 2007 a white one to remember.

Also dominating this year's top weather stories were menacing floods in British Columbia. With a record deep mountain snow pack, the threat of flooding tormented thousands of residents for months. But while devastating floods occurred in the central interior and north coast, lucky residents along the Fraser River were spared when a major storm changed directions at the last moment. Luck was also a factor in Elie, Manitoba, when Canada's first documented F5 intensity (the highest rating on the internationally recognized Fujita tornado damage scale) tornado with winds above 420 km/h touched down on June 22. Most residents were away when the tornado struck.

In Atlantic Canada, one of the big stories was the passage of Hurricane Noel in November. While no Juan, Noel's winds and waves destroyed several beaches, wharves and docks. Fortunately, there were no casualties. People were well prepared and seemed respectful of the potential destructive power of the massive storm. While property damage from weather extremes like Hurricane Noel cost Canadians millions of dollars in 2007, the price tag was less than we've seen in recent years. Thankfully, deadly tornadoes, devastating hurricanes, widespread droughts and plagues were a "no show" for this year.

In general, it was another warm year for Canada - the 11th year in a row - although not as warm as it has been in recent years. The year tied for the second warmest winter on record, some 3°C warmer than normal. Summer was the seventh warmest at about 1.0°C warmer than usual, and from January to November the national average temperature was around 1.0°C above normal. Every region was warmer, especially the Eastern Arctic, which experienced its fourth warmest January-to-November period on record. Globally, it was also another warm year according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Surface temperatures averaged 0.4°C above the annual average of 1961-1990 and the northern hemisphere was estimated to be the second warmest on record since the beginning of the 20th century.

Top ten weather stories for 2007

The following Top Canadian Weather Stories for 2007 are rated from one to ten based on factors that include the impact they had on Canada and Canadians, the extent of the area affected, economic effects and longevity as a top news story.

  1. Vanishing Ice at the Top of the World
  2. BC's Long Flood Threat
  3. Pre-Winter Weather Mayhem from Coast to Coast
  4. Tropical Summer on the Prairies
  5. Oh So Dry in Southern Ontario
  6. Big Bad Noel but No Juan
  7. Great Lakes - How Low Will They Go?
  8. A Winter That Wasn't - Almost!
  9. Record Prairie Hailers
  10. Canada's First F5 Tornado

Runner-up stories for 2007

Regional highlights

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