Last year’s weather events are likely to live long in the minds of western Canadians, if not the record books.
It was a year highlighted by a long winter and a cold spring that culminated with bumper crops in the fall, However, it also saw the most expensive disaster in Canadian history.
“We are seeing more extreme weather in Canada. There’s no question about it. We’re seeing it everywhere,” said Environment Canada’s David Phillips, commenting on major flooding events in Alberta and Toronto.
June’s flood in Alberta affected multiple rivers and more than two dozen communities. It also displaced thousands of residents and caused billions of dollars in damages.
“I always hope that we can learn from severe weather,” Phillips said.
“That may be when you get hit you can say, ‘wow, we are vulnerable. This is not just something that occurs on the other side of the world.’ ”
As the year began, Western Canada was in the midst of a lengthy winter that essentially began in October and lasted into April.
Phillips said the winter months were actually 1.4 degrees higher than normal, which may surprise those who received huge snowfalls. For example 200 centimetres fell on Regina.
However, temperatures were lower than average in the spring.
Phillips said southern Saskatchewan saw the coldest spring in 113 years, while the Winnipeg area went 25 consecutive weeks without seeing melting snow.
“You almost went from slush to sweat and spring lasted, I think, minutes, this past year on the Prairies,” he said.
Summer started late but provided positive growing conditions with good temperatures and optimal rains, while a dry, warm spring boosted yields.