Pedestrians carrying umbrellas to shield themselves from the rain are seen through a cafe window covered with rain and steam in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday March 11, 2017. It was the year of too much ??? too wet, too dry, too hot, too cool. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Canadian weather in 2017 saw ‘too much’ of everything

Environment Canada’s chief climatologist says Canadian weather in 2017 saw ‘too much’ of everything

It was the year of too much — too wet, too dry, too hot, too cool.

“It wasn’t a typical Canadian kind of year, where if you don’t like the weather out your front door, look out your back door,” says David Phillips, Environment Canada’s chief climatologist.

Phillips has just released his list of Canada’s Top 10 weather stories of 2017. If there is a common theme, it’s one of normal weather becoming abnormal simply by not changing.

For example, last spring the rain in British Columbia just wouldn’t stop. That was immediately followed by the province’s driest summer ever.

Related: Flying over the affected floods

The result was the most disastrous fire season in B.C.’s history. Those fires, which forced 50,000 people from their homes, are Phillips’s nod for top weather story of the year.

Related: B.C. hits 1,003 wildfires in 2017

All across the country, weather patterns that would normally move on after a few days lasted and lasted.

A huge dome of hot temperatures sat over the Prairies for most of the summer. Calgary had its hottest May through August since 1881.

The central Canadian spring began with floods in Quebec and eastern Ontario after persistent rains saturated a snowpack only half melted. The Windsor area recorded two storms of the century in less than a year.

Ontarians are calling 2017 The Summer That Wasn’t — a cool, damp season of unrelenting disappointment. The province had more warm days after the official start of autumn than before.

Newfoundland was hit by a slow-moving blizzard that ravaged the island with winds of 190 kilometres an hour. It yanked trees from the ground, toppled traffic lights and blew off roofs as if they were dust specks.

Every part of the country, in every season, saw weather patterns that just wouldn’t quit, for good or ill. For an explanation, Phillips looks to the jet stream, a high-altitude, high-speed current of air that helps produce what we’ve come to call normal.

It usually flows west to east in a more or less straight line from Victoria to St. John’s, Nfld., cold air to the north and warm to the south. Last summer, it looped north of Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., then south of the Great Lakes, before heading back up to the Maritimes.

The so-called “loopy” jet stream tends to produce weather patterns that get stuck.

Emerging science suggests the unstable jet stream also may be linked to shrinking Arctic sea ice, says Phillips.

“I think it was a factor.”

Phillips, like most scientists, stops short of blaming 2017 on climate change. But if it were climate change, 2017 is what it would be like.

“People think with climate change, it’s all about warm, warm warm. But what you get is a shift in weather patterns, where you can actually end up with opposite of what you might think.”

After a 22-year career in weather, Phillips says things have truly changed.

“I remember when I started my career, you’d get one season that was interesting. Now, every one has something to write about.

“The weather is changed. It has a different character, a different personality to it in its duration and intensity.”

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wildfire smoke expected to blanket Greater Victoria again

Conditions expected to worsen Wednesday afternoon but not approach levels reached a few weeks ago

Former Victoria Royals manager celebrates Stanley Cup win

Grant Armstrong is now an amateur scout with Tampa Bay Lightning

Canadian warship HCMS Regina sails past Sidney

The vessel recently returned from the world’s largest naval exercise

Hundreds walk, bike, drive through Saanich’s full moon lantern festival

Harvest Moon celebration draws crowds for pandemic-friendly fun

‘Bonnie’ and ‘Henry’ among latest litter of service dog puppies

B.C. Alberta Guide Dogs names two pups after provincial health officer

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

Orange Shirt Society launches first textbook on residential school history

Phyllis Webstad and Joan Sorley worked on the 156-page book to help educate students

Orange Shirt Day lessons of past in today’s classrooms

Phyllis Webstad, who attended St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in British Columbia, is credited for creating the movement

Greens’ Furstenau fires at NDP, Liberals on pandemic recovery, sales tax promise

She also criticized the NDP economic recovery plan, arguing it abandons the tourism industry

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Most Read