In this July photo, debris from a Pipestone home litters the ground after a powerful storm uprooted trees, brought down power lines and destroyed buildings in the community. Environment Canada, which released its list of the top 10 weather stories of 2013 on Thursday, says the Alberta floods was the No. 1 story of the year. The federal agency says the wild July storms in Westman was among the runner-up stories.
A series of storms, a flood that wasn’t, a winter that seemed like it would never end, and a bin-busting harvest all helped push the Prairies — including Westman — onto a list of the year’s top 10 weather stories.
In this March photo, a maintenance worker clears the snow from the stairways from a series of public housing units following a winter storm. The Prairie winter is No. 8 on Environment Canada’s list of the year’s top 10 weather stories. (FILE PHOTO)
A pair of Sioux Valley Dakota Nation residents walk past a home that was blown off its foundation by a tornado on July 18. (FILE PHOTO)
The list, compiled annually by Environment Canada, places the Alberta floods as the No. 1 weather story of the year, followed by flooding in Toronto at No. 2.
But third spot went to the bumper crops harvested through much of the region.
Despite a slow start to the growing season — a long, drawn-out spring left fields cold and saturated — overall the weather was near-perfect, with a lack of scorching temperatures in mid-summer, a warm fall for harvest, without any killing frosts, and limited severe, damaging weather.
That drawn-out spring helped mitigate flood fears in the Prairies, too, but there were still enough worries to make No. 4 on the list of weather stories.
A record snowpack at the beginning of March — triple the average in some places, according to Environment Canada — raised flood fears in early 2013. The spring melt was very slow, due to March and April temperatures that were the coldest in 16 years.
As it turned out, though, the extended cold weather kept flooding to a minimum, despite fears that April showers would add to the problem.
The Prairie winter also slid into the list at No. 8. Although Environment Canada says that it normally considers December through February to be the winter period, winter weather in the Prairies extended straight from October through April. The agency say it was the longest and coldest period in 16 years, as snows came early, stayed later, and never disappeared.
On the official first day of spring, March 20, the amount of snow on the ground was a record or near-record depth in many communities, including Brandon, which still had 77 cm. That’s 24 cm more than the previous record of 53 cm, set in 1967. Environment Canada also highlighted the region’s persistent cold, particularly in March and April.
<t-3>Wild July storms in Westman was a runner-up story that didn’t make the
top 10. Environment Canada says it recorded several tornadoes in a line of thunderstorms on July 13 and 14, with Pipestone and Reston two of the hardest-hit communities. Pipestone’s arena was partially destroyed by a tornado, and Reston saw 42 mm of rain in less than an hour. On July 15, they were drenched again. Then, on July 18, a tornado touched down in Sioux Valley, with high winds hitting the golf course at Shilo. A final tornado was reported between Deloraine and Boissevain just a few days later, accompanied by 170 km/h straight-line winds.<t$>
Environment Canada also highlighted regional weather stories from 2013. Prairie weather stories that affected the Westman region included a powerful blizzard on Jan. 11, two huge snowstorms in March, including one on St. Patrick’s Day, and a May Day storm that dumped 45 cm of snow on Plumas.
The ice tsunami that badly damaged cottages on Dauphin Lake in the second week of May was also singled out by Environment Canada, as was a one-two punch of storms on the Victoria Day long weekend in May, which drenched Killarney with 69 mm of rain.
» Brandon Sun
Top weather stories of 2013:
1. Alberta’s Flood of Floods
2. Toronto’s Torrent
3. Bumper Crops in the West, So-So for the Rest
4. To Flood or Not to Flood?
5. Rebound in the Arctic Ocean and the Great Lakes
6. Wicked Winter Weather Wallops the East
7. Spring Flooding in Ontario’s Cottage Country
8. Prairie Winter Went on Forever
9. Stormy Seas and Maritime Tragedy
10. Sunny and Rainless in B.C.
» Environment Canada
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 20, 2013