Long winter, ice storm, Snowtember make list of Top 10 weather stories

#Snowtember in Calgary. Courtesy Deanna Allen

TORONTO – From ice storms, to hurricanes, to hail to a winter that many Canadians never thought was going to end. Environment Canada released its Top 10 weather stories of 2014.

How many can you remember?

1. Canada’s long, Cold Winter

It was the winter that brought us the words “polar vortex.”

The cold started to ease in at the end of 2013, but it really hit in the new year. In fact on Jan. 1, Ottawa was a frigid -25 C when just days before it had been a more bearable -8 C.

And the cold was persistent right across the country, aside from in British Columbia. From Alberta to the Maritimes, cold Arctic air refused to let up straight through to the spring.

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But nobody had it worse than Winnipeg with temperatures averaging -20 C from December to March, and snow totalling 155 cm.

WATCH: Coldest winter in Winnipeg since 1898

The winter of 2014 isn’t one that Canadians will soon forget.

A stranded traveller crosses a parking lot at a service station in Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014.
A stranded traveller crosses a parking lot at a service station in Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

2. Summer Flooding in Eastern Prairies

On June 15 large slow-moving low pressure systems brought more than a year’s worth of rain in some parts along the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border. The ground became saturated and rivers and creeks crested.

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For Saskatoon, it was the city’s third wettest spring. In Brandon, June was the wettest month in the city’s records. And in Regina, nearly triple the amount of rain fell.

A truck sprays water as it’s driven through flood waters in Claresholm, Alta., Wednesday, June 18, 2014.
A truck sprays water as it’s driven through flood waters in Claresholm, Alta., Wednesday, June 18, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

3. Wildfires in West and Northwest

Wildfires were once again abundant across the Northwest Territories and northern B.C. in 2014.

Though fewer fires burned, the area burned was three times higher than the 20-year national average with 4.6 million hectares charred. In B.C. alone, fires burned more than 338,000 hectares, seven-and-a-half times the normal 20-year average.

The Spreading Creek wildfire, which burned 1.5 km off the David Thompson highway on the way into Banff National Park, July 11, 2014. ESRD, Alberta Government

4. The Nightmare Before, During and After Christmas

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

It was a Christmas many won’t soon forget.

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It all started in the late hours of Dec. 20 and didn’t end until two days later. Between 20 and 30 mm of freezing rain fell in an area from Windsor all the way to the Maritimes.

WATCH: Toronto’s Ice Storm One Year Later

The rain coated trees and hydro wires, leaving about a million people without power. In New Brunswick, some residents didn’t have power for 11 days.

A tree lies on Kingston Road in Scarborough in Toronto on Dec. 22. Hundreds of thousands of people in central and eastern Canada were left without power after a fierce ice storm brought down power lines. Sharon Murphy/Global News

5. Summer — Hot on the Coasts, Cool in the Centre

After a terrible winter, many were looking forward to the hot days of summer. And it came, just not for everyone.

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The Pacific coast had its hottest summer in 67 years. But from parts of Saskatchewan through to Quebec, it was anything but a steamy summer. The heat and humidity was missing from southern Ontario, which may have been a good thing. But after a particularly harsh winter, many felt cheated.

READ MORE: Polar vortex in summer? Not quite

Still, the country’s summer was 1 C above average, making it the sixth-warmest since record-keeping began in 1948.

People in Toronto take a stroll during a warm stretch of weather in June. Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

6. Hurricane Arthur and Others

The Atlantic hurricane season may have been a quiet one, but eastern Canada didn’t get away scot-free.

After attaining tropical storm status on July 1, Arthur gained strength and became a hurricane on July 3 off the coast of South Carolina. It continued northeast finally reaching Nova Scotia on July 4 as a post-tropical storm. The storm moved northeastward to the Fundy coast and then to Prince Edward Island. As much as 150 mm of rain fell in some places.

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The region also endured the remnants of Tropical Storm Bertha in August and Hurricane Gonzalo in October.

A large uprooted tree rests against a house in Oakland, N.S. on July 5, 2014.
A large uprooted tree rests against a house in Oakland, N.S. on July 5, 2014. Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

7. Airdrie to Calgary Hailer

On Aug. 8 a large thunderstorm formed along the foothills of Alberta and moved east. That severe storm brought winds of 110 to 140 km/h. But what made it particularly impressive was the tennis- to baseball-sized hail that fell in an area that was 300 km long.

In Airdrie, Alberta, six people were sent to hospital after being hit with the large hail.

After all was said and done, there was more than $450 million of damage to homes and buildings.

The aftermath of a storm in Glennifer Lake, Alberta. Courtesy of Boni Trip

8. Powerful December Storms on West and East Coasts

Before winter had even started many Canadians had already seen significant December storms.

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In B.C., an intense series of three storms brought heavy rains and floods to Vancouver Island and the province’s central and south coast. Winds near 100 km/h howled across the region. In Courtney, 250 mm of rain resulted in a state of emergency.

WATCH: Snow day for Fredericton

Meanwhile, on the east coast, a powerful system moved up the eastern seaboard of the United States. It brought three days of rain, snow and mixed precipitation to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and parts of Quebec. Moncton received 142 mm of rain in just 24 hours.

Montreal after a snowstorm hit the city on Dec. 10, 2014. Global News

9. Angus Tornado

Ontario saw an active tornado season, though most of them were weak. However, on June 17, an EF2 tornado hit the town of Angus, about 20 km southwest of Barrie. Fortunately there were no deaths, but high winds damaged more than 100 homes and left 300 homeless.

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The state of emergency that has been in place since a tornado struck Angus last week has been lifted.
Investigators assess the damage to homes and property a day after a tornado touched down in Angus, Ontario, on June 17, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

10. “Snowtember” in Calgary

Weather in Canada can change drastically from one day to the next. But nowhere was that more evident than in Calgary on Sept. 8. After enjoying a sunny day where temperatures reached 25 C, residents woke up to a chilly 10 C. And over the next three days, 40 cm of snow fell. It was the highest September snowfall before the equinox in the last 130 years.

Of course, just over a week later, temperatures returned to 25 C.

An icicle formed on a sunflower as snow continued to fall in Cremona, Alberta, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

You can read Environment Canada’s Top 10 Weather Stories for 2014 here.

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