Canada's top ten weather stories of 2005

Some people are saying that 2005 was the year Mother Nature was mad at the world. We started the new year in shock from the deadliest tsunami in modern history and ended it still cleaning up from Hurricane Katrina - the costliest storm ever. The year's relentless, unstoppable weather extremes wreaked havoc around the world, including: the driest year in decades across the Amazon rainforest; a record drought in southeastern Australia; weather striking Europe with a biblical vengeance, with eastern sections under water and searing heat and wildfires in the south; weeks of torrential rains and floods in south China, while droughts plagued the north; and in India and Pakistan, deadly heat followed by flooding monsoons. Globally, it was the second warmest year on record over the past 145 years, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). It was also one of the costliest, according to insurers, with record losses from weather-related disasters around the world totalling $200 billion. Ominously, we also saw a record shrinkage of ice cover on the Arctic sea with possible disappearance in sight.

Throughout the year, generous Canadians freely donated money and help to the victims of nature's misery around the world. At the same time, we were in awe of the power and force of nature and quietly thankful that we live in Canada - not immune to nature's wrath but seemingly out of its sight. Complaints about snow, frostbite, heat and humidity, potholes, slush and brownouts seemed to pale in comparison to the deadly weather outside our borders. But as we head into 2006, many shudder at the thought of what another year could bring. Scientists can't yet say that the increased weather severity can be directly linked to a warmer world, although it is certainly consistent with our expectations of climate change. But with or without global warming, weather extremes are becoming increasingly catastrophic for modern societies because our larger communities create more targets for Mother Nature's wrath. Our buildings are taller, more ground surface is paved over and we have more people living in close proximity. It's no wonder we are becoming more vulnerable to severe weather incidents.

Hopefully, 2005 was a blip - a year of unlucky extremes and disasters, and not the beginning of an irreversible global trend to weather weirdness and meteorological mayhem.

While Canadians were spared for the most part in 2005, we still had our share of weather extremes. It was another warm year in Canada and the wettest ever, with rain, rain and more rain dominating the weather news from coast to coast. Insured property losses and other costs also made it our most expensive summer ever. Thankfully, deadly tornadoes, devastating hurricanes, drought and plagues were a "no show" for this year and it is hoped that their absence will be repeated in 2006.

Dominating this year's top weather stories in Canada were floods in three different provinces. Once again, Alberta owned the year's number one weather story with record June rains and ensuing floods that became the province's costliest disaster ever. Those same summer storms rolled into Manitoba and triggered the worst summer flooding in that province's history. Both events led to enormous property losses over $750 million. In Ontario, a family of August afternoon storms generated a deluge in Canada's largest city that in less than two hours became the most expensive weather disaster from an insurance perspective in the province's history and the second largest insured loss event in Canadian history.

Other top weather stories for 2005 included: a record warm summer in Ontario and Quebec that was both the sweatiest and smoggiest ever; heavy May rainfalls in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick that led to extreme flooding; too much snow in one week in the Maritimes, but too little on the West Coast to suit winter sports fans; the arrival of a Tropical Punch on the Pacific Coast leading to landslides; and wild November gales around the Great Lakes that included a rare tornado. And though 2005 was all about major hurricanes in North America, Canada didn't see one.

The following Top Canadian Weather Stories for 2005 are rated from one to ten based on factors that include the degree to which Canada and Canadians were impacted, the extent of the area affected, economic effects and longevity as a top news story:

Top ten weather stories for 2005

  1. Alberta's Flood of Floods
  2. Manitoba's Worst Widespread Flooding Ever
  3. Ontario's Most Expensive Weather Disaster
  4. From a Bummer to a Hummer of a Summer
  5. Year of the Hurricane … But not in Canada
  6. April Showers Bring May Floods to the Maritimes
  7. Winter Snow Goes Missing in British Columbia
  8. Atlantic Canada's Week of Snow
  9. November's Nasty Weather Brew
  10. BC's Tropical Punch

Runner-up stories for 2005

Regional highlights

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