From the death and destruction of Japan’s earthquake/tsunami to extreme weather in the U.S.

that killed more than 1,000 people throughout of the year, Mother Nature seemed to be on the warpath in 2011. Canadians had plenty to "weather," experiencing our second-most expensive year for weather losses. The following are the top 10 weather stories of 2011, according to Environment Canada.

Weather woes
Slave Lake burning
In May, fires raced through Slave Lake at 70 metres per minute. One-third of the homes and businesses (about 400 structures) were incinerated in the 1,000 C heat, reduced to burnt concrete, twisted steel and blackened rubble. People were left with nothing. The Insurance Bureau of Canada said it was second costliest natural disaster in Canadian history, at more than $700 million.


News and events — visually


Historic flooding in the West

The highest water levels and flows in modern history were recorded across parts of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Flooding swamped three million hectares of farmland, displacing more than 10,000 in the two provinces. States of emergency were declared in 70 communities.


Richelieu flooding

A combination of excessive snowfall and rapid snow-melt, exacerbated by intense spring rains, caused some of the worst flooding in Quebec's history. Hundreds of roads and bridges were heavily damaged, parts of the shoreline were swept away and thousands of hectares of farmland were submerged. About 800 Canadian Forces personnel were mobilized to help. Losses were in excess of $78 million.


Down on the farm

The Canadian Wheat Board estimated that 2.75 million hectares of farmland went unseeded in the west due to excessively wet weather — mostly in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In Ontario and Quebec, less than 5% of the corn crop was sown by the end of April, compared to 90% in 2010, not helped by sunshine totals that averaged 2,5 hours less per day in May.


Goderich Tornado

On August 21, an F3 tornado, with winds between 250 and 320 km/h, ripped through Goderich, Ont,, killing one person and injuring 40 others. O cials placed the town under a state of emergency. The Insurance Bureau of Canada’s estimate for insured damage exceeded $100 million.


Blowin’ in the wind

True to the predictions of experts, 2011 saw an active Atlantic hurricane season: Irene, Katia, Maria and Ophelia all left destruction and devastation in their wake. The year's 19 tropical storms went well above the long-term average of 11.


Summer bummer

The heat was, at times, unrelenting when a continental-sized dome of high pressure covered 40 states and four provinces in July. Across central Canada, health o cials issued dozens of heat alerts. Humidex values peaked in the upper 40s across Ont. and Que., and new sweltering temperature records were set in Montreal, Sherbrooke and l’Assomption.


Arctic sea ice melting

According to Environment Canada and the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean declined to its secondlowest extent on record in September 2011. Arctic sea ice is now estimated to be 40-50% thinner than it used to be.


Groundhog Day blizzard

What became known as the Groundhog Day Storm shut down two countries with high winds, dangerous wind-chill, ice, blizzards and flash freezes. The powerful and historic winter storm with life-threatening weather led to thousands of cancelled flights across North America and countless school closings.


Wicked winds from the west

During the last week of November, southern Alberta - one of the windiest regions in Canada recorded some of its most powerful winds ever, inflicting many millions of dollars in property damage. Surfacebased wind gusts measured between 117 km/h and a whopping 204 km/h, in Pincher Creek.

Sources: Environment Canada


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