Cold, wet and windy all come to mind when thinking about Toronto’s weather in 2018.
And according to Environment Canada, weather changes in the country are happening “abruptly not subtly; rapidly not gradually” and that we need to adapt to keep up.
“Events that were once rare or unusual for our grandparents are now more commonplace, while we all become more vulnerable and at greater risk due to extreme weather… Canadians must become more resilient – not only for what lies ahead but for the climate already here.”
According to Environment Canada, these were the top Toronto weather stories of 2018.
Record cold start to a long winter
This year, Canadians were faced with six long months of winter, which came with countless extreme cold weather warnings.
The New Year began with many traditional outdoor New Year’s celebrations were moved indoors and most January 1 polar bear dips were frozen out.
In Canada’s largest city, there were 15 consecutive “all-freeze days” in Toronto from December 24 to January 7, including a record low -23.0°C on January 5 when Toronto was “colder than Yellowknife, Whitehorse, Winnipeg and Tuktoyaktuk.”
April cruel, cold, and stormy
Known as being the “cruellest month,” April lived up its reputation in most of the country this year.
“Nationally, it was the coldest April in 16 years, and for millions in Ontario and Quebec it hadn’t been that cold for 71 years,” said Environment Canada.
On April 4, a powerful Colorado storm tracked across southern Ontario and Quebec coating surfaces with freezing rain, dumping heavy rain or snow or both, rocking the region with jet-stream strong winds.
In mid-April, a “Texas storm twice the force of the first barrelled across the same region”bringing several days of ice pellets and freezing rain.
During this storm, Toronto endured 21 hours of ice pellets, 9 hours of freezing rain and 24 hours of rain.
As temperatures rose, conditions got even worse as the ice coating trees and buildings started to melt and move. Strong winds blew away sheets of snow and ice from buildings, smashing windows in downtown Toronto.
The CN Tower closed after ice fell and pierced the dome below, forcing the cancellation of a Blue Jays game.
Power losses from both storms numbered 500,000 in Ontario, with some customers hit with outages twice in less than two weeks.
Powerful May storm
On May 4, a fierce storm ripped through Toronto, with winds reaching speeds of up to 110 km/hr as it made its way into Montreal and Quebec City.
The ferocious storm downed trees, knocked out power for hundreds of thousands and grounded flights at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
Throughout the course of the storm, winds severed 350 hydro poles and 300,000 customers were impacted.
Tragically, three workmen died, including two arborists in Milton who were killed when a tree fell on them and a worker who was electrocuted while clearing a downed power line.
Insurers claimed it was the costliest storm in five years and total economic losses were estimated at upwards of $1 billion, with insurers paying out $622 million in 69,000 claims with more than 90% in Ontario.
Toronto’s August deluge
On August 7, the Greater Toronto Area was hit was a slow-moving storm system that caused widespread flash flooding and power outages in several areas of the city.
The flash flood swamped roads and underpasses, underground parking garages and subway platforms, which wreaked havoc on city transportation.
Several vehicles became submerged, forcing their occupants to scramble to safety, and parts of Toronto’s subway system remained closed the following day.
However, it was the scary experience of two men who almost drowned in an underground parking elevator that became the focus of the public’s attention.
Flooding also occurred at Toronto’s City Hall, in the Scotiabank Arena during a Shakira concert, at Union Station and water seeped through the roof during a Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre.
According to Environment Canada, insured losses from the urban flood, as reported by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, exceeded $113 million from 4,026 claims, while uninsured costs were much higher.
Here’s hoping for a better weather pattern in 2019.