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.

Just Posted

Dylan Hillis preparing collagen samples from ancient dog bones at the UBC musuem of Anthropology. Photo: Eric Guiry
Ancient ‘woolly dog’ ate mostly fish, new University of Victoria study finds

Study gives researchers better understanding of human-dog relationships on Tsehaht First Nation

Mary Fox’s new book My Life as a Potter is available at bookstores nationwide. (Cole Schisler photo)
My Life as a Potter raises funds for Mary Fox Legacy Project

Acclaimed Vancovuer Island potter’s story raising money for developing artists

L to R - Westshore Towing owner dave LeQuesne and Peninsula Towing owners Meghan and Don Affleck believe the cost of dealing with abandoned vehicles, boats, Rvs and campers is a significant financial burden. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)
Towing the line: Vancouver Island tow truck operators at a loss with abandoned vehicles

Dealing with derelict boats, RVs, trailers, vehicles adds up to thousands in uncompensated costs

Lyric John-Cliffe and Cory Cliffe sing a traditional Laichkwiltach canoe song by the Campbell River Estuary. Photo by Binny Paul/Campbell River Mirror
Learning the land: restoration and education collide on the Campbell River estuary

Wei Wai Kum First Nation project passing the baton of environmental stewardship to seven generations

Comox Valley Unhoused executive director Sam Franey, right, is pictured at the Comox Valley Art Gallery with Jagmeet Singh, leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party, and Ronna-Rae Leonard, BC NDP candidate for the Courtenay—Comox riding. Scott Stanfield photo
Housing, for the unhoused, by the unhoused

Comox Valley man dedicated to battling homelessness after spending five years on the streets

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Conservation officers hope the public can provide information about who shot and left a bull and cow Roosevelt elk near Spruston Road, south of Nanaimo. (Facebook photo)
Pair of Roosevelt elk shot and left in woods south of Nanaimo

Conservation officers hope public can help find who killed the animals near Spruston Road

An artists rendering of the proposed Aragon Properties development in Sooke’s town centre shows a friendly, walkable neighbourhood. (Contributed graphic)
Large housing development eyed for Sooke core

Aragon Properties seeks to build 132 housing units

The Capital Regional District spent $1.7 million to restore the Todd Creek Trestle. (Sooke News Mirror)
Todd Creek Trestle restoration completed

Restoration work adds 35 to 50 years to life span of former rail span near Sooke

Bill Kelly, general manager at Crown Isle Resort & Golf Community, has been named executive professional of the year by the PGA of BC. Scott Stanfield photo
Courtenay golf course, general manager earn PGA of BC awards

Crown Isle’s manager, facility honoured by the industry

Dinner shows in the Playbill Dining Room are keeping the Chemainus Theatre going during the pandemic. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Dinner events satisfying for the Chemainus Theatre and patrons

Small groups enjoy entertainment and the food in the Playbill Dining Room

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Most Read