Canada’s Top 10 Weather Stories 2017

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Icy road on the Acadian Peninsula, 27 Jan 2017 (Twitter)

Canada had the eighth warmest period in 70 years of reporting weather in 2017, with temperatures averaging 1.4°C above normal.

From a list of 100 significant weather events across the country, Environment Canada picked the top 10 weather stories of the year:

1. Long and destructive summer wildfire season in British Columbia

2. Hot and dry summer in the West from Interior BC to Manitoba

3. Spring flooding in Quebec and Ontario

4. Cold and snowy winter in BC including Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island

5. More heavy rain and flooding in Southwestern Ontario during late August

6. Cool and wet summer in Central Canada

7. Heavy snow cripples Ontario and Quebec in mid-March

8. Record heat across Eastern Canada during September

9. Blizzards hit Newfoundland in March and April

10. Lengthy ice storm impacts New Brunswick in late January

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California wildfires prompt massive evacuation

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Man watches wildfire in Ventura, CA, USA, 06 Dec 2017 (AP)

More than 200,000 residents have been evacuated in Southern California as hot, dry Santa Ana winds fan the flames of aggressive wildfires.

The winds which blow westward from the Mohave Desert are forecast to gust up to 130 km/h before subsiding by this weekend.

Firefighters say it will be virtually impossible to fight the blazes in those conditions.

Hundreds of homes surrounding Los Angeles have burned to the ground and the fires have even been jumping freeways.

Heavy rainfall earlier this year helped suppress a lengthy drought but a record hot summer has created extremely parched conditions.

Record heat in California

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Sunset over San Francisco, CA, USA, 01 Sept 2017 (Twitter)

San Francisco rarely suffers from hot weather which is why many residents are struggling to stay cool during a heat wave since most homes don’t have air conditioners.

The U.S. National Weather Service says the thermometer climbed to an all-time record-breaking 41.1 C (106 F) on 01 September and another record of 38.9 C (102 F) was set the following day.

Those sizzling highs are a far cry from the average of 21 C for the northern California city.

Numerous wildfires in the region have produced smoke and haze which has added to air quality concerns.

The heat has also stretched northward to Oregon, Washington State and British Columbia where temperatures could exceed 30 C on Vancouver Island.

A heat wave named Lucifer

hoteuropeTemperatures across southern Europe have been so hot in recent days – climbing to more than 40 C in some areas – the heat wave has been called “Lucifer”.

Several deaths have been reported and severe weather warnings have been issued in Spain, France, Italy and the Balkan States.

Serbia’s capital Belgrade reached a scorching 39 C and train service in the southern part of the country was halted after rail tracks buckled in the extreme heat.

By contrast, northern Europe has been much cooler and wetter with the thermometer dropping as low as 4 C in the Scottish Highlands.

Thousands evacuated in B.C. wildfires 

Wildfire north of Cache Creek, BC, 07 July 2017 (BC Transportation/Twitter)


A state of emergency is in place across British Columbia which gives government special authority over more than 230 wildfires. 

B.C. wildfire officials say weeks of hot, dry weather combined with strong winds and dry lightning have led to almost 16,000 hectares being burned so far. 

More than 7,000 residents in the Interior and Cariboo regions have been evacuated from communities like Cache Creek, Princeton, Ashcroft and 100 Mile House to be housed in Kamloops. 

Temperatures remain hot in these areas this weekend soaring above 30 C. 

Sizzling heat in Southwest U.S.

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Children play at a water park in Las Vegas, NV, USA, 20 June 2017 (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Excessive heat warnings have been posted in parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico where record highs have been broken.

Las Vegas tied its record today of 47 C and Phoenix came close to its all-time high at 48 C.

Many flights have been delayed or cancelled since smaller jets can’t operate properly in dangerously hot conditions.

Temperatures have soared to 53 C in Death Valley, California which climbed to 56.7 C on 10 July 1913 – the hottest ever in North America.

Forest fire tragedy in Portugal

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Burnt cars block a road in the Pedrogao Grande area, Portugal, 18 June 2017 (AP/Armando Franca)

A massive forest fire in central Portugal has claimed more than 60 lives and injured dozens of others with hot, windy conditions fanning the flames.

Many died in their vehicles trying to flee the blaze while others died from smoke inhalation.

Portugal has declared three days of mourning in what has been called the worst human tragedy in recent times.

More than 2,000 firefighters are on the scene with help coming from Spain and across Europe.

Officials believe lightning started the fire on Saturday in the mountainous area of Pedrogao Grande, northeast of Lisbon.

Snow falls in Sahara Desert

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Snow covers red sand dunes, Ain Sefra, Algeria, 19 Dec 2016 (Karim Bouchetata/Geoff Robinson)

One of the hottest places on Earth has recorded a light snowfall for the first time in 37 years – since February 1979.

In the normally dry, hot Sahara desert, snow fell in the town of Ain Sefra, Algeria on 19 December.

The snow stayed for almost a day before it melted away.

A “Gateway to the Desert,” Ain Sefra is 1,078 metres above sea level and is surrounded by the Atlas Mountains.

July 2015 hottest month on record – NOAA

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July was Earth’s hottest month in at least 135 years of record keeping according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

July’s average temperature was 16.5 Celsius, beating the previous global mark set in 1998 and 2010 by about 0.07 C.

Records go back to 1880 but nine of the 10 hottest months have happened since 2005.

One of the exceptions was Atlantic Canada where the Maritimes had a cooler than normal July while Newfoundland was much colder than average.

Polar vortex in July

Courtesy The Old Farmers Almanac

Courtesy The Old Farmers Almanac

Most of us are familiar with the polar vortex.

Last winter, the cold outbreak sunk deep into North America and brought frigid conditions to much of the continent.

But the polar vortex can happen in July too and essentially during mid-summer, it means the jet stream is taking an unusually deep trek south.

For Ontario, it has meant below seasonal temperatures this July.

As a matter of fact, St. John’s has had more days above 25 C this month than Toronto which is fairly significant given the Ontario capital’s typical hot and humid weather during July.

Fortunately, New Brunswick like Newfoundland has been on the other side of the jet stream this month with warm, sunny days and above seasonal temperatures.