Canada’s Top 10 Weather Stories 2019

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Hurricane Dorian damage in Halifax’s west end, 08 Sept 2019 (NS Power)

Canada is a land of weather extremes and this year has been no exception with frigid winter cold and stifling summer heat which brought wildfires, flooding, snowstorms and hurricanes.

Environment Canada has compiled its annual list for 2019:

  1. Another record Ottawa River flood
  2. Destructive hurricane season especially Dorian
  3. Snowy Prairie autumn
  4. Bitterly cold February nationwide
  5. Record heat continues in the Arctic
  6. Too dry early, too wet later on Prairies
  7. Blustery Halloween in the East
  8. Spring never arrives in Eastern Canada
  9. More flooding along the St. John River
  10. Fewer wildfires but more hectares burned

Here are some weather highlights for Atlantic Canada:

  • New Year’s Day takes Newfoundland by storm
  • January Maritime storm included every type of weather
  • Winter storm forces Moncton residents outside
  • February storm causes road closures in Labrador
  • Pre-Valentine’s storm across the Maritimes
  • March starts out stormy in Nova Scotia
  • Newfoundland’s icebergs please tourists and locals
  • October “weather bomb” drops lots of rain

Brazil’s Amazon is burning

Brazil fires (Reuters Bruno Kelly)

Fire burning in Iranduba, Amazonas, Brazil, 20 Aug 2019 (Reuters/B.Kelly)

Forest fires are raging in the Amazon rainforest and international pressure has forced the Brazilian government to bring in the military to help.

Official figures show the number of fires has surged by 84 percent this year in Brazil with over 78,000 reported – more than half in the Amazon region.

Many blazes have been human caused and environmentalists blame the jump on farmers clearing land for pasture.

Smoke from the fires has drifted into major cities like São Paulo where the afternoon sky recently became so dark it looked like night.

A state of emergency was declared in Manaus where many residents are suffering from respiratory problems.

Quiet forest fire season in N.B.

Forest Fire

Forest fire near River Glade, NB, 07 May 2013 (Dearing)

A wet, cold spring and a dry, humid July have led to one of the quietest forest fire seasons in recent memory in New Brunswick.

Statistics show 152 fires for the season to date which compares to 206 fires over the past ten years.

Last year was also much busier with 242 fires recorded by the middle of August.

Provincial wildfire officials say although July was warmer than normal, high humidity levels helped prevent fires from starting and from spreading.

Baked Alaska!

Hot weather is rare for Anchorage which has reached an all-time high of 32°C (90°F) but in Alaska’s interior, heat is not unknown.

Fairbanks has previously topped out at 37°C (99°F) and the all-time Alaska state high was 38°C (100°F) in Fort Yukon from 1915.

Meteorologists say a strong high pressure system has been sitting stationary over the state creating the heat wave.

Smoke from wildfires has drifted into many communities creating air quality problems.

Neighbouring Yukon has also been affected by smoke with Whitehorse and Dawson City recording above normal temperatures in the high 20’s since late June.

Canada’s Top 10 Weather Stories 2018

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Wildfires create smoky sky over downtown Calgary, AB, 14 Aug 2018 (Dearing)

Here is the annual list from Environment Canada:

  1. Record wildfires and smoky summer skies in the West
  2. Summer heat wave from East to West
  3. Tough growing season in the Prairies
  4. Powerful May winds impact Ontario and Quebec
  5. September tornadoes touch down in Ottawa-Gatineau
  6. Spring flooding in southern British Columbia
  7. Historic spring flooding along the St. John River Valley
  8. August deluge in Toronto
  9. Record cold start to a long winter nationwide
  10. Cold and stormy April for the East

 

Will rain really help California wildfires?

Heavy rain is not exactly being welcomed in California despite recent wildfires in the northern and southern parts of the state which have been ferocious and deadly.

Officials are now warning about the threat of mudslides as rain falls on dry or parched land and it runs downhill bringing rocks and debris with it.

About 100 mm of rain could fall in the north where the so-called Camp Fire has wiped out the mountain town of Paradise, north of the state capital Sacramento, claiming more than 77 lives with 1,000 still missing.

In the south, nearly 50 mm could dampen the so-called Woolsey Fire in the western suburbs of Los Angeles which has claimed at least three lives and destroyed some of America’s most expensive real estate including the homes of numerous Hollywood celebrities.

The cause of both fires is still under investigation but a lawsuit alleges problems with electricity transmission lines may have played a role.

Gerard Butler, Instagram

Actor Gerard Butler in front of his destroyed home in Malibu, CA, USA, 11 Nov 2018 (Instagram)

B.C. wildfire smoke in the Maritimes!

The sun becomes an orange ball due to wildfire smoke, SE Calgary, AB, 14 Aug 2018 (Dearing)

British Columbia is more than 4,000 kilometres away from New Brunswick but that hasn’t stopped forest fire smoke from making its way across Canada.

On Friday afternoon, Environment Canada issued a special air quality statement: A plume of smoke from fires in Western Canada is moving at high altitude across the Maritimes today causing hazy skies and a reddish sun.

This smoke is not expected to reach the surface or affect air quality in our region and the plume will move off to the east tonight.

The British Columbia Wildfire Service says more than 600 fires are burning in the province with many regions still under air quality advisories.

Smoke impacts Alberta air quality

Smoke over downtown Calgary, AB, 14 August 2018 (Dearing)

Smoke from forest fires in British Columbia is streaming into Alberta resulting in poor air quality and reduced visibility.

Environment Canada says smoke conditions can change quickly during wildfires but air quality will be poor for the rest of the week.

Small children, seniors and anyone with chronic conditions are especially at risk.

British Columbia has declared a state of emergency with over 560 out-of-control wildfires forcing 3,000 residents from their homes and another 20,000 are under evacuation alert.

Summer heat sizzles Europe

A warm air mass from north Africa has caused temperatures to skyrocket into the 40s C throughout the Iberian Peninsula challenging all-time heat records in Europe.

Lisbon, Portugal set a new maximum for 04 August at 44°C and even overnight lows are barely falling below 30°C.

Hundreds of firefighters are battling wildfires in the Algarve region and in neighbouring Spain.

The water in some rivers has become so overheated that fish are dying on a mass scale.

Forecasters say the heat is moving east and will affect France and Germany over the next few days.

The hottest temperature ever recorded in Europe is 48°C (118.4°F) set in Athens, Greece in July 1977.

Wildfires rage in California

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Wildfires burning in northern California, 29 July 2018 (Google Maps)

The largest of California’s wildfires has claimed five lives and destroyed more than 500 buildings near the city of Redding in the northern part of the state.

Fire officials say the blaze has grown in size to about 360 square kilometres thanks to hot, dry conditions and gusty winds.

Sparks from a vehicle ignited the fire on 23 July and now many of Redding’s 92,000 residents are on evacuation notice.

Further south, crews have made progress containing a wildfire outside Yosemite National Park but heavy smoke has closed the Yosemite Valley until next weekend.