Canada's top ten weather stories of 1998

For the third consecutive year, Canada's top news story was yet another weather event. In 1996, it was Quebec's Saguenay River flood, Canada's first billion dollar disaster. Last year, it was Manitoba's Red River flood, the worst flooding in 150 years.  This year, it's without a question, the ice storm of the century in Eastern Canada - the most destructive and disruptive storm in Canadian history and for the five million people affected by the storm, their most unforgettable weather moment.  

1998 may also be most remembered as the year that global warming finally bit deep and hard.  The year saw seasonal and annual temperature records eclipsed both in Canada and globally.  It also will go down as the worst year ever for Canadian insurers who serviced a record number of weather-related claims.  Globally, the year's losses from weather disasters topped $138 billion, more than was lost in all of the 1980s.

Undoubtedly, the one weather term spoken more often this year was El Niño.  The pool of warm ocean waters off the coast of South America, scrambled three quarters of the world's weather for much of 1997 and 1998.  Soon El Niño was both blessed and cursed for triggering a host of events.  From a plague of loonie-size spiders in Prince George, an increase in crime in Saskatoon, an epidemic of migraines in Calgary, huge savings in snow removal and space heating, and higher prices for broccoli and cauliflower, El Niño took the blame for it all.

Putting it all into perspective, the top weather stories of 1998 are newsworthy in their own right by considering the impact they had on Canadians, the extent of the area they affected and their economic impact.  Ranked from one to ten, they are as follows:

Top ten weather stories for 1998

  1. Ice Storm of the Century
  2. A Year-Long Heat Wave
  3. Costliest Forest Fire Season on Record
  4. The Warmest, Longest Summer in Memory
  5. Near-Record Dry Year
  6. Early Planting and Record Early Harvest
  7. Winter and Spring Flooding in Eastern Canada
  8. A Lingering Fall and Most Reluctant Winter
  9. Three Memorable Snowstorms
  10. Hurricane Season and BC's Big Blows
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