Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Top 10 Canadian Extreme Weather Stories of 2012

In 2012 we saw a wide range of anomalous weather and while individual weather events do not prove the existence of climate change, large numbers of such events do offer supporting evidence. In 2012, the Insurance Bureau of Canada reported that Alberta (home of Canada's fossil fuel industry including the tarsands) accounted for 67 percent of insurance claims from natural disasters in 2012, and expects the frequency of such disasters to increase.

Extreme weather events appear to be on the increase with a statistically significant change in weather patterns across the country. What is worse, this is only the beginning of the climate impacts we can expect. Environment Canada released a top ten list of extreme weather events in Canada for 2012.

1. The Big Heat: Canadians experienced above normal temperatures and several record breaking days through winter, spring and summer from coast to coast to coast. It’s been a warm year…and decade!

2. Super Storm Sandy and Another Active Hurricane Season:  Forecasters were right on the money when they accurately predicted another active Atlantic hurricane season in 2012. At season’s end, there were 19 named storms from Alberto to Tony, 10 of which became full-blown hurricanes.

3. BC Flooding...Larger, Longer and Lethal:  High levels of early spring flooding in British Columbia caused washouts, and slides, evacuations and fatalities.

4. March's Meteorological Mildness: The March 2012 heat wave was off the scale in every way: intense, huge and long-lasting. The heat eclipsed every previous temperature record and upstaged the winter that wasn’t.

5. Summer on the Prairies... Warm, Wet and Wild:  Summer on the Prairies started out with short-lived cool temperatures and ended as one of the top ten warmest on record. It followed a spring that was the third wettest and fifth warmest in 65 years of record-keeping.

6. The Big Melt: The year 2012 will go down as one of extraordinary change across the Arctic Ocean, with sea ice that is becoming dramatically thinner, weaker and younger, and melting more easily.

7. High and Dry in the East:  Higher than normal temperatures and a lack of rainfall in Eastern Canada meant a great summer for most outdoor enthusiasts but trouble for some crops and water systems.

8. The Year of the Urban Flood: While flooding typically hits rural areas hardest, 2012 brought equal opportunity flooding to many urban Canadians. Thunder Bay experienced record breaking flooding in May while Montreal and Toronto also found themselves with expensive floods weeks later.

9. Hail to Calgary...Again:  A monstrous hailstorm pelted parts of Calgary with hailstones larger than golf balls late on August 12th. In a matter of 10 minutes, pounding hail dimpled vehicles and riddled house siding with millions of dents.

10. Historic Ice-jam Flooding in the Saint John River:  The first days of spring were marked by a mandatory evacuation for 500 residents of Perth-Andover and Tobique First Nation when the Saint John River and several of its tributaries spilled onto nearby fields and roads.

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