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History of extreme weather events in Canada

By Emma Leclerc|3 min|August 2021

Snowstorm of 1971 - Eastern Canada

Long dubbed the "storm of the century", this blizzard hit Eastern Canada from March 3 to 5, 1971. With 40 to 80 cm of snow depending on the region, winds of 110 km/h and no visibility on the roads, this storm caused a lot of damage. There were 30 deaths, including 17 from Montreal.

Photo : Archives La Presse

1996 Flood - Saguenay

From July 19 to 21, 1996, a series of floods hit the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, North Shore, Charlevoix and central Quebec regions. Between 50 and 100 mm of rain fell. The deluge caused the evacuation of more than 16,000 people, and 500 homes were also destroyed by the waters.

Photo : PC/Jacques Boissinot

The 1998 Ice Storm - Northeastern North America

For five consecutive days in January 1998, severe freezing rain fell in several Canadian provinces and US states. At 100 mm thick, the ice caused the collapse of several high voltage towers, trees and damage to many homes. More than four million residents experienced power outages that could last from a few days to a few weeks.

Photo: Armand Trottier, Archives La Presse

Hurricane Juan 2003 - Halifax

Hurricane Juan was a category 2 hurricane that hit Halifax in September 2003. With winds in excess of 160km/h, it caused eight deaths, several power outages and record high water levels, with waves reaching 20 metres off the coast.

Photo : Doug Mercer

Tornado of 2007 - Manitoba

The Elie tornado was the first F5 tornado to be recorded in Canada. It covered a distance of 5.5 km along a 300 metre wide corridor with winds between 420 and 510 km/h. There were no fatalities, but damage was in excess of $1 million.

Photo : Wayne Hanna, Archives La Presse Canadienne

2017 Forest Fires - British Columbia

The fire season had started on July 7 and ended on September 15, generating a 70-day state of emergency, a record for the province. More than 1.2 million hectares of land were burned and at least 65,000 residents were evacuated. The cost of these fires was $649 million.

Photo : Tore_Greco/Instagram

Spring Flooding 2019 - Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick

With the melting of the snow and the onset of heavy rains, water levels were very high which resulted in multiple flooding events in many areas. 9070 homes in 310 municipalities were affected in Quebec alone. The Canadian Armed Forces were even called in to assist in the three Canadian provinces.

Photo: Valérian Mazataud Archives Le Devoir

Hailstorm 2020 - Calgary

On June 13, the city of Calgary was hit by hailstones falling at 80 to 100 km/h. Damage included at least 70,000 damaged homes and cars. It was the most expensive hailstorm in Canada.

Photo : Evelyne Asselin/Ici Radio-Canada

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