Damage from a tornado is seen in Dunrobin, Ont., west of Ottawa on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Environment Canada meteorologist says 2018 was ‘smorgasbord’ of bad events

Smoky skies, countrywide heat wave lead Environment Canada’s Top 10 weather list

Choking from smoke, sweltering in the heat or cursing early or late snow, Canadians could be forgiven for asking just what the heck happened to the weather in 2018.

“It was almost a smorgasbord of everything that could go wrong,” said David Phillips, senior climate scientist for Environment Canada. “I don’t think there was anything missing.”

Phillips has been compiling Top 10 lists for 23 years and he says the weather is not as cut and dried as it used to be. Here are his top events for 2018:

1. Smoky skies: Driven by hot, dry conditions, the number of fires was higher than last year and the area burned was double the 25-year averages. Smoke from wildfires in British Columbia and down the Pacific Coast to California darkened skies and soured air for more than 10 million Canadians.

2. Canada and the global heat wave: It was hot from coast to coast. Canada Day in Ottawa was the second-warmest in more than 130 years. Three Saskatchewan cities broke all-time records with temperatures into the 40s C. In Quebec, 93 people died from heat-related causes.

3. Spring and fall disappear: The coldest April on record slammed into the hottest-ever May. A few months later, the Prairie harvest ground to a halt when 30 centimetres of snow fell in some areas in September and October.

4. Billion-dollar windstorm: Hundreds of thousands in Quebec and Ontario were left without power in May as 120-km/h winds snapped power poles, damaged homes and hurled tree branches into vehicles like armour-piercing spears. The clean-up tab is estimated at more than $1 billion.

5. Ottawa tornadoes: A series of tornadoes tore up the boundary region between Ontario and Quebec on Sept. 21. One of them was the most powerful recorded anywhere in North America last summer. Insurance costs are expected to be about $307 million.

6. British Columbia floods: A snowpack nearly twice the norm, a wet spring and high late-spring temperatures produced flooding in several river valleys in southern B.C. Almost 5,000 people were forced from their homes by river levels not seen in 50 years.

7. Fast flooding in New Brunswick: Floods on the Saint John River are an old story, but even old-timers were surprised by the speed of the water in 2018. Deep snow, heavy rains and sudden heat created the largest, most damaging flood in modern New Brunswick history down river of Fredericton in April and May. The Reversing Falls stopped reversing.

8. Toronto’s tiny, perfect storm: On Aug. 7, a compact storm dumped 58 millimetres of rain downtown and 72 millimetres on Toronto Island, while the suburbs and the airport got almost nothing. Two men nearly drowned in an underground parking elevator and Blue Jays baseball fans got rained on despite the closed roof at Rogers Centre.

9. Cold start, long winter: Six months of it. Albertans faced wind-chill cold of -45 C on New Year’s Eve. In early January, Toronto was colder than Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T.

10. The cruellest month: Nationally, it was the coldest April in 16 years and in 71 years if you lived through it in Ontario and Quebec. In those provinces the misery was compounded with up to 12 centimetres of freezing rain, snow and ice pellets. Windows on Parliament Hill were smashed. The CN Tower was closed after Rogers Centre was bombed by ice falling from the tower.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Touchstones Museum has opened up Nelson’s Cold War bunker to the public. The unique exhibit includes artifacts from the 1950s and 60s. Photo: Tyler Harper
Take cover! Cold War bunker opens to public in Nelson

The shelter was built in 1964 in case of nuclear fallout

Trail police seized baggies of suspected meth and fentanyl during an assault call. Image: Courtesy of Medline Plus
Assault call in Trail leads to drug seizure

The incident was called into the Trail police station Friday night just before 7 p.m.

COVID-19 test tube. (Contributed)
test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health launches online booking for COVID-19 tests

Testing is available to anyone with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms

Photo: Fraser Institute
Local Leviathans: The Rise of Municipal Government Spending in Canada, 1990–2018

Understanding municipal finances is challenging as they are not very transparent and vary widely

The Black Jack Ski Club is holding its annual membership drive with an early incentive to get your membership before Nov. 1. Photo: submitted.
Black Jack Ski Club invites new members

An early-bird discount means it’s a good time to get your membership to the Black Jack Ski Club

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Volunteer registered nurse Stephanie Hamilton recieves a swab from a driver as she works at a Covid-19 testing site in the parking lot at Everett Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
13 more COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

There are 624 cases in the region since the start of the pandemic

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

Most Read