The Senior Climatologist with Environment Canada says coming up with his list of top weather stories for 2021 was no easy feat. David Phillips says he has been doing this for 26 years. He says it seems years ago, there were fewer significant weather events, something this past year did not lack.
He has called the top weather story for 2021, Record Heat Under The Dome, referring to the scorching heat in British Columbia.
"It was very dry and so, all the sun's energy went to heat the air, scorch the air, and that high-pressure area even inched its way to Manitoba," explains Phillips. "It just stood there like a bully."
Phillips says Lytton, BC broke temperature records for Canada on three consecutive days, eventually setting an all-time high of 49.6 degrees on June 29th.
"It was like a Death Valley moment for us," he says.
With Canada being known as the second coldest country in the world, Phillips says we now boast a hotter all-time temperature than Europe, South America and every corner of the United States except for the desert southwest. He recalls Kamloops, BC had never before recorded a day above 40 degrees in June until this year when there were six such days.
Phillips says it was a very deadly heat, killing nearly 600 people in BC and 200 in Alberta.
Number two on Phillips' list for 2021 is what he calls, BC's Flood of Floods. He notes November rain in southern BC is not unusual, but says the land that had been scorched by forest fires now had no vegetation left to prevent the water from flowing where it wanted to go; resulting in sides of mountains breaking through.
The third story on Phillips' list is, Canada Dry Coast to Coast. Phillips says southern Manitoba was the epicenter of the drought this year in Canada. In fact, Phillips says Winnipeg had the two driest back-to-back years on record, dating back to the 1800s.
"From late May to mid-August, there was six per cent of the annual precipitation fell in southern Manitoba," notes Phillips.
He adds nearly 40 per cent of these days were above 30 degrees.
"I think farmers gave up before the harvest ever came," he recalls. "In fact, a week before the harvest, the Canadian Drought Monitor association said ninety-nine per cent of the prairies was in a drought situation."
Phillips notes the drought of 2021 rivaled the Dirty Thirties.
Number four on his list is the wildfire season. Phillips says smoke from Berens River and Ontario trickled down into Southern Manitoba. He notes Winnipeg, which is known for being big sky country, recorded about 250 hours of smoke and haze.
Rounding out his top five list of weather stories for 2021 is the heat felt in Canada. Phillips notes some places in Manitoba had 35 days where the temperature reached at least 30 degrees when in a normal year we will see 13.
Phillips says 2021 was the deadliest year in Canadian history, the most destructive year and likely the most expensive.
Meanwhile, Phillips says there were a few weather events unique to Manitoba that stood out. For example, he says southern Manitoba and southern Saskatchewan, known for being a tornado hotspot, had no tornadoes from about June 9th until the middle of August.
"I had farmers say to me, 'we'd like a tornado because I'm willing to take the hail and the wind destruction, as long as we can get a drop of rain,'" recalls Phillips. "It just shows you how desperate they were."
There was also the bitter cold snap in February, after what had been a warmer than normal winter.
And finally, he says there was the 100 kilometre per hour winds on June 5th in southern Manitoba which snapped trees and took the roof off of the old arena in Niverville in the southeastern part of the province.