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

Flags lowered in honour of the late Bill McRae

Community leader, businessman passed away July 9

LETTER: Terrace mayor cites Bill McRae’s accomplishments

“Hard work and incredible character became a gift to the City of Terrace.”

Royal LePage Aspire Realty buys office in Terrace

Owner Rod Mcleod said the move will increase connectivity in northern B.C.

Ferry Island Campground in Terrace now open to out of province visitors

Decision based on recommendations from the provincial government

Infinite Ice’s holistic hockey program returning to Terrace in August

COVID-19 precautions in place for on-ice training, meditation, yoga and nutrition classes

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

Children suffer swollen eyes, burns while playing at Lower Mainland spray park

Mission RCMP are investigating incident that injured several children

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Most Read