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My Top 5

It is said that the weather is something Canadians talk about a lot.  I find myself counting the weeks left to see Spring temperatures.  For today’s post, I decided to describe my top 5 weather stories of 2013.

Photo of a street in Alberta during the floods of 2013

Alberta Floods in 2013

 

1.  Alberta’s super flood of May/June washed across one-quarter of the province and through the heart of Calgary – the fourth largest city in Canada.  The damage losses and recovery costs from the flood to exceed $6 billion, including a record $2 billion in insured losses. Trees were literally skinned of their bark 10 metres above the ground by gravel and boulders barrelling along in rushing waters. In Calgary’s downtown, 4,000 businesses were impacted and 3,000 buildings were flooded. Water rose at the Saddledome up to the 10th row. In Stampede Park, stables and barns were under more than two metres of water.

2. Toronto’s Torrent of July  when the city faced two separate storm cells – one on the heels of the other – that slowed then stalled over the city. The one-two weather punch delivered more rain in two hours than Toronto usually sees during an entire July. Exacerbating the storm’s impact was the 38 mm of rain that had fallen on the city the day before. The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimated the July 8 storm costs at close to $1 billion in damages – the most expensive natural disaster ever in Ontario. Videos captured cars bobbing up and down on streets and highways, sinkholes opening up and snakes swimming inside stalled commuter trains. Thousands were stranded, necessitating rescue by boat in some instances. About 500,000 households were without power for as much as days.

3. February Fog on Fogo. No one got off Newfoundland’s Fogo Island for five days at the end of the month because heavy ice conditions and dense fog shut down ferry and air travel. The Island’s school closed, stores ran low on supplies and residents were unable to attend off-island medical appointments. Feelings of isolation and frustration only increased as strong winds blew more fog in on the Island instead of blowing it away.

4. The Nightmare during Christmas, happened the weekend before Christmas as a vigorous winter storm coated parts of eastern Canada with a thick mixture of snow, ice pellets, rain and freezing rain that plunged large parts of the region into days of cold and darkness. Thick glaze left roads and sidewalks slick and dangerous and knocked down power lines, leaving over 500,000 people without electricity. Though

Downed trees on a road

Nightmare During Christmas

picturesque, the Christmas storm created extremely dangerous conditions as fallen power lines intertwined with broken tree limbs dangled across streets and property. The affected area extended from Lake Huron, across the Greater Toronto Area, east along Highway 401 to Cornwall, through Quebec’s Eastern Townships and across the central Maritimes centred on the Bay of Fundy. The epicentre of the freezing rain was in southern Ontario between Niagara and Trenton where between 20 and 30 mm fell – more than two-year’s worth in two days. It crippled North American transportation at one of the busiest travel times of the year.

5. Prairie Perpetual Winter. Environment Canada considers the months of December through February as winter. Tell that to Canadians on the Prairies, where cold, snow and ice went on for seven months from October 2012 to April 2013, inclusive – the longest and coldest period in 16 years. Snows came early, stayed late and never disappeared. As a result, it felt and looked like winter from before Thanksgiving to a month after Easter. And with deep snow on the ground any warm-up was stalled until late May. Persistent cold – between March 1 and April 30, the average temperature in Regina was -8°C; eleven degrees colder than the previous year and the coldest period in 113 years. The prolonged winter was especially costly for governments. By the end of January, Saskatchewan had already spent $6 million more than usual on snow and ice control with much more to come.

I guess this year’s winter isn’t so bad after all.

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Cat and owner swim for their lives

Why Evolution Is True

Here’s a heartwarming story sent by alert reader Iggy to end the week on a happy note.

The photo blog of NBC News has the story and photos of a Candadian man, Kevan Yeats, and his cat Momo, who were overtaken in Yeats’s truck when a river in Alberta overflowed.  The truck went down, and both had to swim for their lives. The photos are quite dramatic:

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Look at that moggie swim!

They made it.

3

And so this tail has a happy ending.

Have a good weekend (I’ll be here all weekend, folks!).

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Flood in Montreal!

Beaver Hall Hill, looking southwards, Montreal...

Beaver Hall Hill, looking southwards, Montreal, Quebec (Photo credit: Musée McCord Museum)

This is usually the time of year when many parts of Canada are menaced by spring floods.  Under normal conditions the floods are kept under control, but occasionally there will be a combination of unusual weather and then the high spring waters run wild.

There have been desperate conditions in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia (1948) and the Red River, Manitoba (1950).  Both situations were saved by thousands of citizens turning out to make restraining walls with sandbags.  Even so, the Red River flood extended over 700 square miles and caused $27 million damage.

Until 1901, when a stone wall was built along the river banks, Montreal had often been damaged by spring floods.  One of the first floods destroyed a cemetery established by Maisonneuve who founded Montreal in 1642.

The worst Montreal flood happened on the evening of Sunday, April 14, 1861.  Almost without warning, the St. Lawrence River rose so suddenly that the water poured into the lower part of the city, stranding many people who were attending evening services on the churches.  St. Stephen’s Church on Dalhousie Street, and the Methodist Church on Ottawa Street were surrounded by water in a few minutes.  The people had to stand on the pews as it poured in at the doors. Even then, with the water 6 feet deep, they could only keep their heads above it.  Some people had to stay there all night in the freezing cold and darkness because the lights were extinguished.  Others were rescued by small boats which were rowed into the churches!

By morning, there was an icy blizzard and one-quarter of Montreal was under water.  Small boats served as taxis from St. James Street to Beaver Hall Hill, at a fare of five cents per passenger.  The Grand Trunk Railway was unable to  run as its lines were flooded as far as Lachine.  Victoria Bridge, an important link in the Grand Trunk which spanned the St. Lawrence River, was also temporarily closed.  Then considered one of the engineering wonders of the world, it had just been opened the previous year by Edward, Prince of Wales, representing his mother, Queen Victoria.

I just found a really nice blog, and it covers this event with a photo and a newspaper article: Coolopolis!

I had heard of this event many years ago, but I just can’t remember where I’ve seen or read it.  And I can’t say that there are many resources on the ‘net about it.  That said, I’ve accessed an online reproduction of Montréal fin-de-siècle : histoire de la métropole du Canada au dix-neuvième siècle, published: 1899, Montreal Gazette Print Co., identifier: 27398, Collection: History of French Canada.  I’ve accessed the following on April 13, 2013 at  Canadiana.ca:

“L’année 1861 s’annonça par une grande inondation.  Le soir du 14 avril, un dimanche, l’eau monta de 24 pieds au-dessus du niveau ordinaire et si rapidement, que grand nombre de personnes furent surprises dans les églises d’où elles ne purent sortir qu’avec peine.  Le froid et la neige vinrent encore augmenter les souffrances causées par cette subite des eaux.”

 

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