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

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

Image courtesy CDC
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kitamaat Village

Haisla Nation Council said there are two confirmed cases they are aware of at this time

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

The Kitimat River in July. (Clare Rayment photo)
Good News, Kitimat!

Bringing some local good news to your week

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Most Read