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Canada's Top Ten Weather Stories for 2011

A Year in Review - 2011 Weather Stories

From floods to fire, melting Arctic seas, heat waves, blizzards, hurricanes and tornados - 2011 was a weather year to remember. Canadians from coast to coast to coast were affected by this year's weather extremes and their insurance companies reported the second most expensive year for weather losses. Read the full story

The Top Ten

1. Historic Flood Fights in the West

Cleaning debris from a bridge on Turtle River in Ste. Rose Du Lac, Manitoba.  April 2011. © Wendy Erlenson.  

Known as the flood that would never end and the spring flood that became the summer flood; the 2011 Prairie flooding featured the highest water levels and flows in modern history across parts of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Read the full story.
- Prairies

2. Slave Lake Burning

Heavy black smoke resulting from a fire storm that struck Slave Lake Alberta in May 2011. © Alberta Environment.

Perfect fire conditions were in place last May, so when a fire started, the blaze, aided by 100 km/h winds, spread quickly. One-third of the homes and businesses in Slave Lake (about 400 structures) were incinerated in the 1000°C heat –  reduced to burnt concrete, twisted steel and blackened rubble. Read the full story.
- Slave Lake, Alberta

3. Richelieu Flooding…Quebec’s Longest-Lived Disaster

© Environment Canada.  Houses and streets flooded along Richelieu River in Quebec, spring of 2011.

The Richelieu flood was arguably the worst overland flooding in southern Quebec this century. Hundreds of roads were damaged, parts of the shoreline were swept away, and thousands of hectares of farmland were submerged. Fish swam where grain should have been growing. Read the full story.
- Southern Quebec

4. Down on the Farm: Doom to Boom

© Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.  Flooded farmland near Weyburn, Saskatchewan in April.

Farmers across the country faced prolonged flooding; but weather fortunes changed for many late in the season. In the end, wavering weather created a multitude of outcomes ranging from doom to boom depending on the crop and location. Read the full story.
-Across Canada

5. Tornado Goderich in a Wild Week of Weather

© Environment Canada. Damage to Goderich Ontario, after a Fujita Scale 3 tornado with winds between 250 and 320 km/h struck the town in July 2011.

After a relatively quiet summer, a wild week of weather hit Ontario, starting with Goderich on August 21st.  In less than two minutes, a tornado ripped through the picturesque community, with unbelievable damage; killing one person and injuring forty others.  Only three days later, dark clouds and lightning rolled in and another three tornados occurred across Ontario. Read the full story.
- Ontario

6. Good Night, Irene...and, Katia, Maria and Ophelia

© View of rough waters off the Atlantic coast.

From Arlene to Sean, 19 tropical storms formed in the Atlantic basin – well above the long-term average of 11. Only six became full-blown hurricanes, with three logged as major at Category 3 or higher: Irene, Katia and Ophelia. The busy storm season reflected a continuation of above-normal activity that began in 1995. Read the full story.
- Atlantic

7. Summer: Hummer or Bummer?

© Group of children playing in water. Many areas of Canada experienced very high temperatures in July.

On the first day of summer, temperatures were on the rise from Saskatchewan to Quebec, blanketing millions of Canadians in warmth and sunshine. But, for those on the west and east coasts it was a different story altogether as they endured cool temperatures, endless rain and overcast or foggy skies. Read the full story.
- Across Canada

8. Arctic Sea Ice near Record Low

© Environment Canada. Ship moving through open Arctic water.

According to Environment Canada and the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado, sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean declined to its second-lowest extent on record in September 2011. The near-record ice melt was surprising owing to the absence of the unusual warm weather and oceanic conditions that contributed to the super melt in 2007. Read the full story.
- Arctic

9. Groundhog Day Storm: Snowmageddon or Snowbigdeal?

© Trucks buried in snow.  February storm recorded heavy snowfall in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

During the last week of January, meteorologists warned of a storm that could affect 100 million people from New Mexico to Newfoundland. For portions of southern Ontario the storm had more bark than bite. But, blizzard conditions did take hold from Lake Huron to Niagara, and; over Quebec and the Maritimes, the storm lasted two days depositing between 20 and 50 cm of snow. Read the full story.
- Ontario, Quebec, Maritimes

10. Wicked Winds from the West

© View of Calgary skyline.

Southern Alberta is one of the windiest regions in Canada. During the last week of November, some of the most powerful winds ever recorded in the area ripped across southern Alberta, including Calgary, inflicting millions of dollars in property damages. Read the full story.
- Southern Alberta


Runner-Up Weather Stories


Regional Highlights

Atlantic Canada

  • January Nor’easters Pound the Atlantic Provinces
  • Another Winter Storm
  • MonctonBuried in Snow
  • Pre-Halloween Storm Scares Atlantic Canada
  • Record Wet October in Halifax
  • Winter’s First Big Storm
  • Atlantic Weather Bomb
  • Read the full story.


  • One Wet March
  • April Showers Bring Spring Flooding
  • An Active Summer Storm Season
  • September Microbursts
  • Read the full story.


  • Record Wet March and High Water Levels
  • Essex-Lambton Tornado
  • Four Tornadoes in One Day
  • Windsor Sets Annual Precipitation Record
  • Could Have Been Snow
  • Read the full story.

Prairie Provinces

  • Super-Sized Snows in Alberta
  • Spring Snowstorm
  • Edmonton Swarmed; Winnipeg Skeeter-Free
  • Four Alberta Tornadoes
  • Calgary’s Severe Summer Weather
  • Read the full story.

British Columbia

  • Avalanches
  • Winter’s Two-Week Blast
  • Dull Spring in Vancouver
  • Spring and Summer Flooding
  • September Flooding
  • Read the full story.

The North

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