BC’s heat wave tops Environment Canada’s list of top weather events in 2021

Record-breaking heat in British Columbia topped Canada’s list of the most important weather events in Canada for environment and climate change for the past year.

The weather bureau released its annual list of top weather events on Thursday, with the heat wave landing in first place, closely followed by the recent flooding in BC.

Overall, weather conditions in British Columbia were mentioned in at least five of the ten entries.

“In 26 years since the release of the Top 10 Weather Events, there has been nothing quite like this year, where Canadians have endured such a torrent of weather extremes,” Environment Canada said in the report.

“While we cannot attribute any weather event to human-induced climate change, the evidence is compelling — we are experiencing more intense and frequent extreme weather. Climate change is leading to more frequent and intense disasters worldwide.”

Here’s a detailed breakdown of Environment Canada’s key 2021 weather events:


On June 29, the city of Lytton, BC experienced a “Death Valley moment” when temperatures hit a new Canadian record of 49.6 C.

It was the third consecutive day that Lytton had set a new Canadian heat record. It was hotter in Lytton than has ever been recorded in both Europe and South America.

On June 30, a wildfire destroyed 90 percent of the city, killing two people and displacing 1,200 others.


BC flood

On Nov. 13, the first of seven “atmospheric rivers” descended to British Columbia’s south coast, where massive amounts of rain, combined with already swampy conditions, “triggered a torrent of flooding,” according to Environment Canada.

The floods have washed away or covered several highways with debris, killed thousands of animals and wreaked havoc on Canada’s supply chain.

The agency estimates it to be probably the most destructive and costliest weather disaster in Canadian history.


Historians compared the drought in the Prairies this summer to the Great Depression, and by the end of the season, several communities had declared the states an ecological disaster.

It was one of the driest summers in 75 years.

A week before Canadians were due to start harvesting their crops, the Canadian Drought Monitor classified 99 percent of the prairie’s agricultural landscape as a drought.


BC wildfire

Canada’s wildfire season started about a month earlier in 2021 and resulted in about 2,500 more wildfires than in 2020.

Only British Columbia reported 1,522 this year, destroying an area 1.5 times the size of Prince Edward Island.

On July 10, there were uncontrollable wildfires in all provinces and territories except Atlantic Canada and Nunavut.


Canada’s summer was the fifth warmest in 74 years, leading to heat records across the country.

In 2021, there were a total of four significant heat waves, defined by Humidex readings above 40 degrees, afternoons above 30 degrees and nights above 20 degrees.


Barrie Tornado

While tornadoes with a rating of two or higher are rare in Canada, this year there were several that reached that rating.

On June 21, several tornadoes — including one EF2 — struck parts of Quebec, claiming the province’s first tornado victim in 27 years. More than 100 houses suffered major damage.

Another EF2 tornado touched down in Barrie, Ont. on July 15, where it damaged 150 homes and nearly 700 vehicles. There were six other EF2 tornadoes that day, although they weren’t as destructive.


Near-simultaneous Arctic blasts from Siberia and Greenland left Canada in a deep freeze for part of February.

By the weekend of Feb. 14, every square mile of land was frozen, but the worst came in the Prairies, where parts hit as low as -55 degrees.

In Winnipeg, the record cold of -38.8 degrees on Feb. 13 in the city was colder than the tip of Mount Everest.

At a charity hockey game in Edmonton, freezing temperatures contributed to the pucks exploding after colliding with the post.


Hail storm victim Skyview struggles with insurer

On July 2, a storm hit Calgary with 50 millimeters of rain and hail the size of golf balls.

The storm led to clogged sewers, flooding and sewers. In total, it cost an estimated $555 million in insurance claims.

A hailstorm in Calgary that caused $1 billion in damage was the most significant weather event last year.


Hurricane Larry

On September 2, Hurricane Larry entered Canadian waters as a Category 2 hurricane, but did not make landfall in Newfoundland until September 11.

The hurricane caused widespread outages in the province and eroded several roads along the coastline, although most Newfoundlanders were prepared for the storm.


In mid-January, an atmospheric river in the Pacific Ocean brought intense winds of more than 100 kilometers per hour to Alberta and the Prairies.

Bratt’s Lake, Sask. report wind gusts of 143 kilometers per hour, while the Moose Jaw airport reported 161 kilometers per hour.

Rain in the area then turned to snow, resulting in blizzards that caused poor visibility in the Prairies.