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Weather events summaries
This page shows summaries of weather events having significant impacts or occuring rarely. For example, a large snow or rainfall, a rare weather phenomenon (tornado, extreme temperatures, etc..) or a sequence of days with special conditions (dry/wet spell, hot/cold spell). Events that are very rare or that had major impacts have a more detailed report linked.
From February 15 to 17, two consecutive snow storms left a total of 50 to 90 cm of snow over the Gaspé Peninsula, Anticosti Island and the Lower North Shore, which is 1 to 1.5 times the monthly normal. The abundant snowfall combined with gusts exceeding 100 km/h caused widespread blowing snow and reduced visibilities, forcing many school and road closures.
On January 27, 2014, heavy snow squalls* over southern Quebec caused numerous road accidents, some causing death. North of Montreal, a major pileup involved near fifty vehicles. The snow squalls impeded visibility, making it drop from “good” to “nil” in a few seconds. The presence of black ice on the roads also contributed to the hazardous driving conditions. According to Environment Canada archives, near-zero visibilities due to snow and winds are relatively frequent over southern Quebec: once out of three years on average. In addition, a similar situation occurred on February 17, 2006, in Lanaudière, while the biggest car pileup of Quebec history was also caused by snow squalls. Seventy-eight vehicles were involved, making a hundred injured and causing two deaths.
*Squalls: heavy and brief snow showers accompanied by strong winds, caused by convection
From December 30, 2013 to January 4, 2014, a cold spell hit Eastern Canada after severely impacting the Prairies. In Quebec, the average temperature of these six days was -20 °C in the south and -35 °C in the mid-north (latitude 50N), which is ten degrees below normal. The coldest temperature observed was -47.2 °C on January 2 in Lac Benoit (night temperature). The wind chill reached -40 °C in the south and -55 °C in the mid-north. In the south of the province, a cold spell with this duration and intensity (6 days with an average temperature of -20 °C) returns every 15 years on average, the last cold spell having occurred from January 21 to 26, 2013. The intensity of the cold spell and its duration resulted in several impacts, including road accidents.
The weekend of December 21 to 22, 2013, a major winter storm originating from Texas paralyzed eastern Canada and the northeastern United States, providing a cocktail of precipitation, causing many impacts. Indeed, significant amounts of ice pellets, freezing rain and snow have been reported in these areas. Quebec was particularly hard hit by freezing rain especially in Estrie and Montérégie where amounts exceeded 25 mm in places. To this was added, between 15 and 30 cm of snow and ice pellets. This storm resulted in several impacts including road accidents causing the death of six people in Quebec. At the height of the damage, 54000 clients were without power, of which 33 000 in Estrie and 18 000 in Montérégie. In Ontario, about 350 000 customers were without electricity of which 250,000 in Toronto.
Here is a map showing the water equivalent (total in millimeters) of snow, freezing rain and ice pellets
On Sunday December 15 2013, a winter storm originating from southern U.S. dumped 25 to 35 cm of snow over southern Quebec, and up to 50 cm in the Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie. Winds blowing at 50 to 70 km/h generated blowing snow that reduced visibility and caused transportation problems. The very cold air previously installed (-15C to-25C) contributed to icing-over of roads. Many road accidents were reported, some causing serious injuries in multiple-car accidents in Quebec City and Montreal. Airlines had to cancel several flights, and some schools also had to close. Overall, the impacts were however limited by the fact that the storm hit over a weekend.
On November 27 and 28, an intense low pressure system originating from the Gulf of Mexico resulted in the first snowfall over southern Quebec while eastern Quebec received significant rain amounts. Winds above 100 km/h also accompanied the storm. In detail, the Greater Montreal area received 10 to 15 cm of snow, the Outaouais and Laurentians, 20 to 25 cm, and the Lanaudière region, near 30 cm. In the Outaouais region, an accumulation of more than 20 cm of snow in November occurs every 30 years on average (2 cases in 62 years, the last case occurring November 25, 1987). The Gaspésie region, Anticosti Island and the North Shore received 60 to 90 mm of rain while Natashquan and Chevery regions received nearly 100 mm. As for the wind, the maximum reached at Environment Canada stations was 124 km/h in Cap -Madeleine, Gaspé. Impacts of the storm were numerous: several road accidents of which two were fatal (in Saint -Robert in the Montérégie and in Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel in the Mauricie region), 16000 homes left without electricity, schools closures and delayed or canceled flights.
Friday, November 1, a major autumn storm swept through the province of Quebec after causing extensive damage in the US Midwest and in Ontario. In Port Colborne, Ontario, gusts of 100 km/h brought down a tree and an electric power pole on a vehicle causing the death of a person (source: media). In Quebec, winds reached between 70 and 110 km/h, with a maximum of 111 km/h in Cap-Chat. Wind-broken trees and power poles caused numerous power outages. At the height of the damage, 350,000 clients were without power, of which 90 000 in Montreal (source: Hydro-Québec). The storm also left behind more than 50 millimeters of rain in several regions of Quebec, including Stoneham where the Hibou and the Huron rivers burst their banks forcing autorities to sent out evacuation notices to several homes. In addition, temperatures climbed to 15°C or 20°C in several regions, corresponding to ten degrees above normal.
On October 7, early in the afternoon, a strong cold front swept through southern Quebec and generated gusts above 90 km/h. Trees were damaged, electric power poles were knocked down, electric wires were cut and near 40 000 customers lost power in the Laurentians, Centre-du-Québec, Montreal, Montérégie and Chaudière-Appalaches. Then, the cold front continued its way eastward, and gusts of 133 km/h were measured in Cap Madeleine (Gaspésie) late in the evening. According to Environment Canada archives, such gusts in Cap Madeleine are rare since their corresponding return period is 30 years. The last gust as high was recorded in 1988, when it reached 148 km/h (record value for this location).
On August 21 and 22, several regions in Quebec were affected by severe thunderstorms causing torrential rain, hail and violent gusts. On the evening of the 21st, the Abitibi region received 40 to 70 mm of rain in a few hours, causing some flooding. In Dupuy and La Sarre, hail measuring 4 to 8 cm in diameter was observed, and in Chapais, gusts uprooted trees. The next day, on August 22, the Bois-Francs region, the Richelieu Valley and the Thetford Mines region received near 50 mm of rain causing some flooding. On the evening of the 22nd, the greater Quebec area was hit by gusts which, also, uprooted trees, causing considerable damage to the electricity grid. According to authorities, 23 000 homes lost power in the region. In Beauport and Iles d’Orléans, 40 to 80 mm of rain fell in two hours. A quantity of 80 mm in two hours comes back every 100 years on average in the region according to Environment Canada statistics, making it an exceptional event.
Intense thunderstorms caused local flash flooding over parts of southern Quebec late in the afternoon and in the evening of August 13, 2013. More than 70 mm of rain was measured in a few hours in the upper Laurentians, but similar quantities were probably also observed elsewhere since inferred amounts from weather radars showed similar quantities in Laval, the lower Laurentians and northern boroughs of Montreal.. Flooding of streets and basements was reported in the Montreal region, but non-reported flooding may have occurred elsewhere considering the radar estimates. Later on in the evening, thunderstorms from this weather system generated a small tornado in Sherbrooke that caused some damage to a car dealership.
A rainfall of 70 mm in 4 to 6 hours is quite rare according to rainfall statistics calculated from rain gauge data over southern Quebec (once every 20 years). But since there are no statistics of rain using radars, we cannot determine a return period for areas where rain amounts were infered from radars.
Very severe thunderstorms caused one death, a few injuries and enormous material damage on the 19th and 20th of July over southern Quebec. Most of the damage was caused by strong winds, but there was also heavy rain in certain areas. These thunderstorms were located ahead of a cold front, in a very hot and humid air mass that affected the region for the previous six days.
On the 19th, a line of thunderstorms swepth through the Pontiac, Ottawa Valley, Laurentians, Greater Montreal and Montérégie regions. Winds of over 100 km/h knocked over many trees that damaged power lines and structures. At the height of the storms, 500 000 homes were without power. A death related to a downed tree occurred in Boucherville. On the 20th, another line of severe thunderstorms affected the Saguenay Lac-St-Jean region. There too power was lost and some damage to structures was reported.
Though severe thunderstorms along, or ahead, of a cold front occur 2 to 3 times a year, the last time a similar event happened following a heat wave was on July 12, 2010.
For more details on this event, see the full report.
Daytime temperatures reached 30 to 35°C for 7 consecutive days in southern Quebec from July 13 to 19 and did not drop below the 20°C during the nights. The average daily maximum for the 7 days ranges between 29 and 32°C,, which is 4 to 5 degrees above the normal for this period of the year. Combined with the humidity, these hot temperatures rather felt like 35 to 45 (humidex). The absolute maximum temperature observed each day was 33.4°C at Beauport on July 13, 34.1°C at La Tuque on July 14th, 34.8°C at Deschambault on July 16, 34.9°C at La Tuque on July 17, 31.7°C at Beauport on July 18, and 34.0°C at St-Anicet on July 19.
A heat wave of this duration and intensity occurs every 5 to 10 years on average in southern Quebec. The 2010 heat wave saw warmer temperatures at night (three nights above 24°C), while the 1988 event was even longer when looking at warm nights. Here is an image showing the day and night temperatures in Montreal during the heat waves from 1970 to 2013. Notice that 1988 saw two events longer than the 2013 one.
Though this type of heat wave is not very rare in southern Quebec, it is rarer in regions that are further north and east. Indeed, temperatures reached 33°C in the Saguenay Lac-St-Jean on July 14, 31°C on the North Shore on July 15th, and 34°C on the Gaspe Peninsula on July 15, which are values that occur every 10 years rather than every 5. In addition, the Maritimes also saw very hot weather, for example in New Brunswick where temperatures reach 34°C at several places on July 15th.
From May 20 to 26 2013, southern Quebec received large amounts of rain due to a stationary low pressure system caused by a stagnant atmospheric circulation. The Eastern Townships and the Beauce received between 120 and 150 mm of rain, Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches, 100 to 120 mm and the plains of St. Lawrence, the U.S. border to Trois-Rivières, 60 to 100 mm (map). As a result of this rain, the water levels rose very quickly, causing flooding and land slide risks, which required the evacuation of homes and campers, the closure of several roads and increased monitoring of water levels, including the municipalities of Brome Lake and Brigham (source: report of the Quebec Government Operations Centre from May 26). The rainy weather was all the more surprising in that it came after two weeks of very dry weather due to another blocked system, this time a high pressure system. The rains did increase the monthly assessment of "below normal" before the May 20 "above normal" a week later.
From April 28 until May 9, temperatures over the southern third of Quebec were exceptionally warm, reaching 28°C from May 5 until May 8, and between 20°C and 25°C the other days, with a maximum of 29.8°C at La Tuque on May 6th. . Departure from normals varied between +10 and +15 degrees, with a maximum of +17 degrees in the Chaleur Bay (Gaspe Peninsula) on May 7th . Departure from normal for the whole period of April 30th through May 9th 2013 was +10 degrees.
The daily maximum temperatures rank historically among the warmest 2%. The daily absolute record for these ten days of the year is 34.4°C, which occurred at St-Bernard-de-Lacolle May 9, 1979, a day where all of southern Quebec surpassed 31°C, from the Ottawa Valley to Quebec City. Since 1980, only 1999 saw temperatures as warm during the same days, making the heat wave of 2013 a rare event in recent history.
The heat rapidly accelerated the snow melt in regions further north, which ended the spring thaw a little earlier than the normal. The heat also hastened the drying of the soil, which permitted farmers to begin seeding earlier than usual, as well as contributing to a larger than average number of forest fires (according to the SOPFEU).
From January 21 to 26, 2013, arctic air invaded central and eastern Canada as well as the northeastern United States. In Quebec, the cold air mainly affected areas south of the 49th parallel. The intensity of the cold but mostly its duration, resulted in several impacts, including failures and breakdowns in the electricity grid, accidents and deaths due to slippery surfaces and reduced, or closed, public services (see list of impacts below). Temperatures ranged between -15 °C and -25 °C in southern regions (Pontiac, Ottawa, Greater Montreal, Montérégie and Beauce) and between -25°C and -35 °C in northern regions (Abitibi, Laurentians, La Tuque). The average temperature for the whole event was -20 °C in the south and -25 °C in the north, which is 7 to 12 degrees below normal for this time of year.
A six day period with temperatures as cold* has only occurred three other times since 1943 (earliest date in considered time series) giving this event an average return period of 18 years, which is considered "rather rare". Adding the areal surface of the event (geographical extension) to its intensity and duration, there is only one other case (February 1979) where the combined intensity, duration and areal extent was greater than in January 2013, which gives the cold wave of 2013 an average return period of 35 years (2 cases in 70 years). Thus, according to this more thorough analysis, the cold wave of 2013 can be considered a "rare" event (see Figures 2a-2d showing a map of the average temperature of each event).
*Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures over the entire six days
An F0 tornado hit the area of Mont-Laurier in the Laurentians around 14:15. Traffic signs were reversed and an old barn was demolished. The sixth tornado of the year in Quebec can be qualified as a rare event since only 1% of tornadoes recorded in Quebec occurred later than October 31.
In the early morning of September 8, a line of severe thunderstorms oriented north-south formed ahead of a strong cold front over western Quebec and swept across southern Quebec during the day, leaving 30 to 60 mm of rain in its wake with a maximum of 100 mm in the Outaouais region. Torrential rains and strong winds caused heavy damage in the municipalities of Gatineau, Lanoraie and Drummondville. Trees were uprooted, streets and basements were flooded, 19 homes were evacuated and nearly 90,000 homes were left without electricity. In addition, an F0 tornado touched down in Drummondville late in the afternoon, causing extensive damage to the roof of a four-storey brick building (Drummond Community Development Corporation). This tornado was the fifth of the year in 2012 in Quebec, which brought the total number of tornadoes to the historical average of 5.4. Note that since 1985, the average occurrence of tornadoes in September is once every two years, which is not uncommon. The latest tornados to occur in the season are in November.
Despite the severity of the thunderstorms and their impacts, the amount of water left was welcome given the seasonal drought since the spring. Indeed, rainfall raised the water levels a few centimetres.
Late in the day of September 4, a narrow band of rain associated with the remains of hurricane Isaac and oriented east to west left 50 to 70 mm of rain on the southern-most regions of the province and on southeastern Ontario (maximum of 100 mm at Frelighsburg in the Eastern Townships). These large quantities of water rapidly raised the levels of lakes and rivers, but the increase was temporary given the important seasonal water deficit.
Severe thunderstorms originating from Ontario caused torrential rains, winds at times strong and considerable impacts in several regions of southern Quebec in the late afternoon and evening of August 11th.
Between 30 mm and 50 mm of rain fell in southern Quebec. Several sectors of the north crown of Montreal of which Blainville and L'Assomption, received between 70 and 80 mm of rain in 3 hours what is qualified as rare event (an event which returns every 50 years on average). An accumulation of 50 mm of rain in less than an hour was observed in Joliette and hail of 4 cm diameter has also been reported in Blainville. In addition, a microburst with winds estimated at 120 km/h hit the Gulf club of Rosemère at about 5:45 pm causing the death of a young golfer and fall of many trees uprooted.
The impacts were significant: Accumulations of water on the roadway, sewer backups as well as flooded basements were reported in several municipalities. Uprooted trees fell on the electrical network leading to electrical power outages. About 28,000 customers of Hydro-Québec distributed in the Lanaudière, Laurentides, Laval and Montérégie were without electricity.
In early afternoon of July 4, a line of severe thunderstorms formed in the upper Laurentians, ahead of a cold front, and descended to the southeast reaching the St. Lawrence plain late in the afternoon. The line moved fairly quickly, but the intensity of the storms caused one death and extensive damage. The death was caused by lightning having hit a hiker in Portneuf, while the damage was due to strong winds and hail causing heavy losses to crops, especially in Montérégie, Bois-Frans and Saguenay-Lac -St-Jean. In St. Remi, in the Montérégie region, crop losses reached tens of millions of dollars. The wind in this region also caused much damage to structures since the passage of a microburst was identified retrospectively (by Environment Canada).
From 25 to 27 June 2012, the Bois-Francs, Beauce, Charlevoix and Baie-Comeau regions received 70 mm with a maximum of 90 mm in Charlevoix, which made river flows rise to values close to records for this time of year. This heavy rain is due to two weather systems having followed one another in three days. The first system originating from North-western Ontario left about forty millimeters in the Beauce and Bois-Francs regions from June 25 to 26, while the second system arriving from New England and remaining nearly stationary near the border between Maine and New Brunswick, left 50 to 70 mm of rain in the Lower St. Lawrence, Baies des Chaleurs region and the upper North Shore. These rainfall amounts contributed to a very rainy month of June in eastern Quebec, where the accumulation reached 200% of normal in some places.
An F1 tornado hit the area of Huntingdon in Montérégie around 17:00, causing extensive damage in some places. This is the third tornado of the year in Quebec on an annual average of 5.4 and an average of 55% to date. The roof of a garage was torn off and trees were uprooted or broken by the force of the tornado.
On the same day, intense storm cells affected Louiseville on the south shore of Trois-Rivières in the evening. They were accompanied by violent microburst in excess of 90 km / h. Heavy rain mixed with hailstones up to 2 cm in diameter was reported in some areas. This microburst is responsible for heavy damage to the electrical grid of Louiseville where nearly 800 customers were without electricity.
From March 18 to 23 2012, eastern Canada and north-eastern United States experienced an exceptional weather event: very warm temperatures for this time of year affected the whole region for nearly a week, shattering previous records almost everywhere, and by a large margin. Temperatures exceeded 20°C for nearly a week while the norm is just above zero. The maximum temperatures recorded during this event varied between 26°C and 30°C over eastern Canada, of which 27.3°C in the province of Quebec (in Témiscamingue).
Such large temperature anomalies in March (20 to 30 degrees above normal) have been observed in the past (eg, 27.8 ° C in Quebec in March 1945), but never on as long a stretch of days, and in so northerly regions (up to James Bay, Chibougamau and north of Lac St-Jean).
This very early heat, and so many days, melted the snow cover very rapidly which caused flooding and landslides. Tree buds opened much before their usual time which exposed them to freezes, including the late freeze of the last days of April which caused substantial damage in apple orchards in Quebec and Ontario. Animals and insects came out of their hibernation. More details are available in the following report.
The passage of a strong cold front on the night of January 17 to 18, 2012, associated with a depression along the St. Lawrence, created winds of 90 km/h with gusts above 100 km/h in several regions of southern Quebec, causing damage of all kinds (trees, poles, power lines) and causing major power outages (80,000 subscribers). In addition, the rapid decrease of temperature, from values above freezing to values below freezing, and with the combination of a little rain, iced-up all surfaces: roads, sidewalks, structures, etc.
Winds observed during this event have a mean recurrence of 10 years, making it an "uncommon" to "rare " event. In Montreal, where the winds reached 83 km/h at the airport, there is only one other occasion where the wind exceeded 80 km/h (on January 22, 1959, with winds of 90 km/h), making this event a “very rare” event for Montreal. In terms of duration, since the winds exceeded 70 km/h for two consecutive hours, the number of times such conditions were encountered in the past is eight, making this event, with this duration criteria, an "uncommon" one.
An intense low pressure system originating from southern Ontario touched Quebec and followed the Saint-Lawrence valley on Thursday January 12 and Friday January 13, leaving 25 cm of snow in its wake. Behind the storm, polar air combined with strong winds created high values of windchill, and generated snow squalls over the Lower-Saint-Lawrence and the Gaspésie region.
This was the first storm to touch southern Quebec during winter 2011-2012, which is quite rare considering that the majority of winters see their first winter storm before the end of December. For example, in Montreal, only six winters since 1940 saw their first snow accumulation of 15 cm later than January 14, which is a one in ten years frequency on average.
The cold temperatures which followed the cold front (-25°C in the Saint-Lawrence valley, -35°C at La Tuque and Lac Saint-Jean and -40°C at Onatchiway, 50 km north of Chicoutimi), are considered extreme since they are in the 2% coldest temperatures historically.
The fact that this first snowstorm is so late and that cold temperatures are, also, late is in line with the abnormally warm weather observed in Quebec and eastern USA since the beginning of November. Up to January, anomalies were comparable to those of the warmest winter on record, and also one of the least snowiest, the winter of 2006-2007. This situation can be explained partly by the North-Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), a climatic influence which affects Western Europe and eastern North-America. Since the beginning of autumn, the NAO has been in a “positive phase”, favouring warmer weather over the mentioned regions, of which southern Quebec.
October 8 to 10, 2011, an exceptional autumn heat wave affected the Abitibi region, the Saguenay – Lac-St-Jean, the Haute Mauricie, Gaspésie region and the lower North Shore. Temperatures climbed above 28C, which is twenty degrees above normal (see maps below).
Several new records were established, some of them reaching seven degrees above the previous records (table below). Elsewhere in Quebec, temperatures were hot albeit not extreme.
This heat wave is largely within the definition of an Indian summer, which is three consecutive warm days with less than 5 mm of rain, following the first freeze (definition of « warm » depends on location and date). It’s the Abitibi region where this Indian summer was the longest (six days) whereas for Gaspe and Sept-Iles this Indian summer was there second in the autumn.
On the afternoon and evening of September 13th, three thunderstorm lines preceding the passage of a strong cold front swept through southern Quebec in a south-easterly direction. Regions of Montreal, Montérégie, the lower Laurentians, the Eastern Townships and Beauce experienced torrential rain (50 mm in less than two hours at St-Colomban), strong gusty winds, frequent lightning and, in some places, cherry-size hail.
Two micro-bursts generating winds between 100 and 120 km/h (estimated by Environment Canada) hit St-Colomban (Lower laurentians) and St-Prosper (Beauce). Wind gusts brought down thousands of trees which fell on automobiles, houses and electrical lines, causing numerous power failures. Flights to and from Montreal airport had to be postponed for a few hours.
Hurricane Irene became extratropical over Quebec and left 100 mm of rain in less than twenty-four hours on the regions south of the St. Lawrence River, with a maximum of 150 mm to the west, near the path of the storm. Map of rainfall accumululation. The north shore of the St. Lawrence River received 40 to 70 mm of rain, except Quebec City and Charlevoix which received 100 to 150 mm due to their proximity to the storm's path. These amounts of rain, although very high, do not beat previous records. Quantities of 120 mm in 24 hours have been recorded a dozen times over the past 130 years in Quebec (Source: Environment Canada Climate Data Archives). Winds of 100 km/h were also observed almost everywhere in southern Quebec, with a maximum of 120 km/h.
The rain caused sewer backups and overflows of rivers, including the Yamaska which washed away important sections of road and caused a fatal road accident. Hundreds of homes were evacuated, especially in Montérégie and Estrie. The wind also caused a lot of damage: uprooted trees, damaged electric wires, power outages, etc.. Almost 300,000 Hydro-Quebec subscribers were without power including 130,000 for more than 24 hours (source: Quebec Civil Security).
In the United States, Hurricane Irene is considered to be one of the ten most damaging hurricanes in history, as of 2011, given the strength (level 3), but also its trajectory. In fact, it skirted the coast then entered the continent near New York City, where it poured up to 200 mm of rain: an exceptional amount according to authorities. In Vermont, rivers reached levels never seen before, tearing sections of roads and bridges along their way. Nearly forty deaths were directly linked to Irene in the United States. In 1960, Hurricane Donna, also ranked among the ten most damaging hurricanes in the United States, had a similar trajectory. But in Quebec, the most severe impacts of hurricanes were probably those of Katrina and Rita, which were closely spaced in time (three weeks apart in September 2005), poured a total of 300 mm of rain.
On August 5, 6 and 7, severe thunderstorms hit Lac-Saint-Jean. Four thunderstorm lines sweeped through the region on a southeasterly track (see images below).
The thunderstorm line on Saturday afternoon August 6 was particularly intense. Torrential downpours, strong winds and hail stones were reported in several regions. A “F1” tornado (winds of up to 150km/h, estimated by Environnement Canada) was reported at Sainte-Élisabeth-de-Proulx, as well as a microburst (phenomenon spunning from a thunderstorm) at Saint-Ludger-de-Milot. The previous day, a waterspout (tornado over water) was seen offshore of Mashteuiatsh, near Roberval. These violent phenomenons overturned or broke thousands of trees, damaged houses and properties and created blackouts. By chance, no deaths or injuries were reported. The maximum rain amount reported over the period was 90 mm at Roberval (see image). Rain in Roberval
A heat wave affected southern Quebec from July 20 to 23. Daily temperatures rose above 30°C, and felt temperatures due to humidity (Humidex factor) reached 40 in several regions. New temperature records were set in Montreal (35,6 °C July 21), in Sherbrooke (32,2 °C and 31,3 °C July 21 and 22) and in l’Assomption (35,0 °C July 21). These conditions favoured the formation of severe thunderstorms in central Quebec and Lower St-Lawrence. One cell generated a F1 tornado (winds between 117 and 180 km/h) in the Réserve faunique des Laurentides, a unique phenomenon in this region. This heat wave created excess hospital admissions and caused 10 premature deaths according to public health authorities.
On June 23 and 24, 2011, severe storms and heavy rains hit the Ottawa-Gatineau region. The Gatineau Hills were most affected with accumulations of more than 250 mm within 24 hours, which represents more than twice the normal amount for June and an all-time record. Rainfall amounts are comparable to those of the "deluge of Saguenay", which occurred in July 1996, but the area is 10 times smaller. The impacts were considerable: neighborhoods flooded, residents evacuated, sections of road washed away, landslides, power outages for thousands of citizens for several hours.
From March 12 to 13, 2011, several regions located north of the Saint-Lawrence river were affected by large quantities of rain. The Outaouais region, Montreal, the Laurentians, Lanaudiere, Mauricie and the immediate south shore between Montreal and Trois-Rivieres received 40 to 60 mm of rain in 24 hours (and a mix of rain and snow in higher terrain). The Minganie region was the most severely hit with 70 to 90 mm of rain (see map). Following this event, many rivers reached critical levels and some created local floodings.
From March 4 to 8, two consecutive weather systems impacted south and eastern Quebec, leaving large quantities of rain and snow which reated floods and/or high snow loads in some regions. During March 4th to 6th, up to 40 mm of rain and up to 40 cm of snow in higher terrain affected the following regions: Outaouais, Montreal, Montérégie and Quebec. The following next two days (March 7 to 8) saw 40 to 80 cm of snow in the Laurentians, the lower St-Lauwrence, the Gaspésie, the Saguenay and the Côte-Nord region. The joint map shows the total precipitation for both evnets combined, e.g. from March 4th (PM) to March 8th (PM), for a total of 96 hours or 4 days (total precipitation = rain + water equivalent from snow).
Over the these two consecutive events, new records of snowfall over three days were set. In Sherbrooke, 73.0 cm of snow were recorded whereas the previous record was 56.6 cm (Feb 23-25, 1994), and in Mont-Joli, 79.2 cm were recorded compared to the previous 65.4 cm (Feb 4-6, 1995). As goes for rain, such quantities are generally rare at this time of winter. For example, in Montreal, an accumulation of over 40 mm over 2 days, in March, returns every 23 years on average. But what is unique is the fact that such a rainfall never occured as early in the month, the last rain event of this magnitude in March having occured on March 8-9 (1998, 41,8 mm).
A mass of arctic air invaded the Abitibi January 22 and spread to southern Quebec on 23 and 24 January. Minimum temperatures plunged to between -25 and -37 C° and wind chill reached between -35 and -48 C°. These conditions resulted in the closure of several schools and caused numerous power outages across Quebec. Most homeless shelters were forced to deploy emergency beds to cope with greater demand than usual.
Abitibi experienced the coldest weather with a wind chill of -48 C°. Several other regions experienced temperatures below -40 C°, with the exception of southwestern and eastern Quebec. See the temperatures of some cities in the table below.
Cold snaps with similar wind chills are not rare in January (once in every 3 to 5 years). The extreme wind chills values for January ranges from -40 C° in the southwestern part of the province to -55 ° C in Abitibi and Lac Saint-Jean.
From December 13 to 15, 2010, parts of the Gaspé Peninsula and the North Shore received exceptional downpours reaching over 200 mm of rain in three days in some places, which is a record for this time of year. Several impacts were reported. Among others, in the Gaspé Peninsula, roads 132, 197 and 299 had to be closed. In Gaspé more than 300 homes were flooded and more than 150 homes were evacuated. On the North Shore, the flood water carried four sections of track, cutting rail links between Sept-Iles to Schefferville and Labrador City.
The weather station in Gaspé was the one that recorded the highest rainfall with 247.6 mm of rain in 72 hours which represents a record (95 years of data) for the month of December at this station. The absolute record for rain on three days in Gaspé, for any time of the year, is 265 mm and occurred from April 23 to 25, 1980. On the North Shore, one of the stations in Sept-Iles received 141.1 mm of rainfall which is a record for the month of December for a period of 3 consecutive days (66 years of data). Besides, the station of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan reported over 160 mm.
The Gaspesie region, the lower North Shore and the Magdeleine islands received 60 to 100 mm of rain in 2 to 3 days, causing some flooding. Since rivers in these regions were allready high before the event, the rain caused them to overflow. Westerly regions received less rain, but on the other hand they received snow (10-15 cm in Charlevoix, Parent-La Tuque, Laurentides/Hautes Laurentides) and/or freezing rain, causing road closures and minor accidents. Winds of up to 100 km/h blew at Chevery. Make note that Nova-Scotia and southern New-Brunswick were much harder hit, with 200 mm of rain falling over the same time frame, causing severe impacts (collapsed bridges and washed away road sections).
From Septembre 24 to Octobre 1, southern Quebec received 150 mm of rain. The most affected regions, Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean and the higher North-Shore, received up to 170 mm of rain. In these regions such an accumulation has only been equaled by the famous “Saguenay flood” of 1996 where 180 mm fell in only three days (July 18-21, 1996). The recent event caused less damage than during the Saguenay flood since the rain fell over a longer period. But it caused river levels to rise rapidly from very low, to record high levels. Residents of La Baie had to be evacuated tree times since landslides were very prone because of saturated grounds. In the Eastern Townships, over 90 mm of rain fell in less than 24 hours from September 30 to October 1, causing rivers to overflow, of wich the St-Francois river which flooded parts of Sherbrooke and other municipalities. Two deaths were attribued to this event.
The remnants of hurricane Earl, coupled with a weather system incoming from the west, dropped 30 to 60 mm of rain in less than 12 hours over eastern Quebec. A maximum of 85 mm was recorded between Sept-Iles and Manicouagan, in the axis of Ste-Marguerite river. Northern coast of Gaspesie received 40 to 50 mm in less than 6 hours on the afternoon of Sept 4th. Consequently, river flows increased rapidly, but didn’t reach critical levels since values were abnormally low before the rain (important seasonnal rain deficit). Violent winds reaching 90 to 110 km/h also impacted the region.
A heat wave impounded southern Quebec from August 29 through September 3 (6 days) and the north from August 29 through September 1 (4 days). In the south it was considered climatologically “unusual” since only 3 other late heat waves (end august/early sept) of such length appeared in the past 100 years. In the north, it was considered « exceptionnal » (never met before) by its lenght and heat content, with maximum recorded temperatures 3 to 7 degrees above previous records (Tmax of 35C at La Tuque and Bagotville).
On August 15 and 16, thunderstorms gave torrential rain over western and southwestern Quebec, with 90 mm of rain over the Outaouais region. A maximum rainfall rate of 56 mm per hour was observed in Maniwaki on August 16, which is a record for this station.
From August 3 to 5 extreme southern Quebec received more than 100 mm of rain. The maximum is 114 mm at Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue station, in western Montreal. During summer, an accumulation of more than 100 mm in 3 days comes back in Montreal every 45 years on average, making it a rare event. The maximum 3-days accumulation in Montreal is 121 mm, on July 1958. Usually, it is during fall that accumulations (over more than one day) are higher, with remnants of hurricanes occasionally affecting Quebec. For example, on November 1996, 135 mm fell in two days over Montreal.
The heat wave of July 5 to July 10, which begat smog and had several impacts on public health, was a very rare event, especially in terms of overnight temperatures. From July 5 to 9 temperatures over southern Quebec exceed 33C during the day, with a corresponding humidex between 42 and 45, and did not decrease below 20C at night. Such sequences of day and night temperatures come back every 40 years on average. This heat wave made July 2010, the warmest July since 1959. Night temperatures, which significantly impacted health, remained above 20C for 13 consecutive nights in Montreal (July 4 to 16). A similar wave prevailed in 1988 when, from July 24 to August 13, the temperature did not dropped below 20C for 21 days.
On May 24 and 25, severe thunderstorms in the region of Quebec and the Bois-Franc caused significant damage: roofs are blown away and trees are cut and uprooted, collapsing on electrical wires and roads.
Severe thunderstorms over southern and central Quebec generated gusts over 90 km/h and hail, causing damage. In some places the hail diameter reached more than 2 cm. A few days before, the Lower St. Lawrence, Gaspé and the Lower North Shore were affected by 50 to 80 mm of rain.
Montérégie and Estrie received 30 to 40 mm of rain while eastern Quebec and the North Shore received 20 to 50 cm of snow.
The combination of two low pressure systems over southwestern Quebec left 30-100 cm of snow over the Appalachians and 40 to 60 cm over the Laurentians.
From February 6 to 7, up to 100 cm of snow fell on the Gaspe Peninsula.
From January 25 to 29, Quebec is battered by a winter storm giving all sorts of precipitation and strong winds. Up to 75 mm of rain fell over the Laurentians on the 25th: this is 50% more than the old record of winter rainfall (40-50 mm). Over the Lower St. Lawrence and the Gaspé region 50 cm of snow accumulated. On the night of 25 to 26 wind gusts reached more than 100 km/h on the Lower St. Lawrence and Gaspé, with a maximum of 117 km/h in Cap Madeleine.
Eastern Quebec experienced unusually warm temperatures in the first week of January.
In the first week of January, two weather systems merged and stalled over the Gulf of St Lawrence in a blocked circulation, giving warm temperatures throughout eastern Quebec, mixed precipitation and strong winds. The low pressure also caused a surge over the Gulf, breaking fast ice. Gaspé and Sept-Iles beat heat records for four consecutive days (daily maximum temperature from January 2 to 5). A sequence as warm in January was never seen before. Before temperatures climbed above zero, 20 cm of snow accumulated from Ottawa to Gaspé and freezing drizzle affected Estrie for over 50 consecutive hours. Damage and significant impacts are observed everywhere: icy/snowy roads, flights cancelled, power lines damaged.
On December 26 and 27, 2009, 30 to 50 cm of snow fell on southwestern Quebec, followed by freezing rain and 20 to 30 mm of rain.
A little cold snap gave temperatures below -25C for 4 nights in Val-d'Or and below -20C for 3 nights in Montreal. Such cold waves occur on average every five years.
Montreal region received 28 cm of snow on December 9th. In Montreal, a snowfall accumulation of 25 cm before the onset of winter (Dec. 2) was observed only five other times since 1943: on December 9, 2008 (25 cm), December 4, 2007 (32 cm), December 16, 2007 (32 cm), December 16, 2005 (41 cm), and November 30, 1944 (31 cm).
An intense low pressure system, tracking northward along the coast, left up to 50 mm of rain over Eastern Townships and up to 45 cm of snow over the Lower St. Lawrence (in the night of the 28th to 29th).
A deep low pressure system crossing northern Quebec gave strong winds across the province. Southern Quebec recorded gusts over 90 km/h in Montérégie, the St. Lawrence Valley, Saguenay and the Gaspé region. Northern Quebec experienced winds over 100 km/h in many places, with a maximum of 115 km/h in Inukjuak.
Between 100 and 150 mm of rain fell on the first week of October over the Baie des Chaleurs and Sept-Iles, with 50 to 90 mm in 36hrs (on October 4 and 5). Several rivers saw their water flow rise very quickly. La Moisie, upstream of R-132, reached a new streamflow record in 30 years. Accumulations of October 4 and 5 have a historical recurrence of 5 to 10 years.
From August 31 to September 17 (18 days) almost no rain fell from the Outaouais region to Gaspe. The vegetation dried up and several rivers levels dropped dramatically. The dry weather occurring in the peak season of ragweed favored increasing pollen concentration in the air of the Montreal area. During the whole week, from September 2 to September 8, concentration exceeded the high level for health risk. A small drought had also affected southern Quebec in September 2008 (15 days), but this one is a record in length for several places. See Dry Spell, Septembre 2009.
From August 14 to 18, a hot and humid wave affecting southern Quebec, begat a smog episode, impacted public health, rapidly increased the wildfire index, and rapidly reduced the level of lakes and rivers. The humidex reached a maximum value of 44 and exceeded 40 in several cities, on August 17 and 18. In Montreal and Ottawa a sequence of five days with humidex values as high corresponds to a return period of 7 years, while in Quebec it is 28 years. See Heat Wave, August 14-18, 2009.
An F2 tornado traveled 40 km between Deléage and Mont-Laurier (High Laurentians) in the afternoon of the 4th of August, causing considerable damage in Mont-Laurier: 40 homes damaged and 28 total losses. F2 tornadoes are not uncommon in Quebec (every 3 years on average), but the path is usually much shorter: a few hundred meters to a few kilometers, at most. See August 4th Mont-Laurier Tornado, .
Severe summer weather hit all southern Quebec in the afternoon 11th of July until late in the night on the 12th. Storms dumped 40 to 70 mm of rain over Montreal, the Laurentians, Montérégie, the Bois-Francs, and generated two tornadoes in the Lower Laurentians (F0 and F1). Houses and structures were damaged by winds, trees were uprooted, and rivers experienced a streamflow record since the past 30 years. The impact of this event was amplified by the fact that an other heavy rain event occured in the previous week. See Thunderstorms, Tornado and Heavy Rain, July 11, 2009.
From June 28 to July 4, more than 100 mm of rain fell over the Mauricie and the Charlevoix region. Elsewhere in southern Quebec, 50 to 100 mm of rain fell. Houses were flooded in several locations and structures were damaged. The historical return period for such a rain event in six days is about once every 40 years, in southern Quebec. See Rain Spell - June 28 to July 4, 2009.
From May 27 to June 1, nearly 80 mm of rain fell on the Lower St. Lawrence and Gaspe region, overloading rivers.
Winds over 90 km/h caused significant damage across southern Quebec: thousands of power outages, traffic problems, uprooted trees, and road accidents (including truck overturned on Highway 10, east of Montreal).
From Gaspe to the Baie des Chaleurs, 65 mm of rain fell in 36 hours (from May 10 to 11), a phenomenon that occurs on average every xx years.
More than 80 mm of rain fell in three days between April 4 and 7. In addition, gusts of more than 80km/h blew on the North Shore on April 7.
From January 14 to January 18, an intense cold wave affecting eastern Canada had several impacts: strong pressure on energy demand (record for Hydro-Québec), broken electrical distribution equipment, watermain breaks, failure of public transportation, breakdowns of a high number of personal vehicles, fires due to intense heating, and poor air quality due to wood heating, etc.. In western Quebec, such a cold snap has a return period ranging from 5 to 10 years, while in the east (Quebec City and eastward) it is a historical record since this cold snap was more intense. Throughout Quebec, the heating degree-days during the cold snap were 40% higher than normal for this time of year. See The Cold Snap of January 14 to 18, 2009.
This section provides access to reports concerning some major weather events for the province of Quebec.
Third party site - Download Adobe Reader in order to read PDF format files.
|June 2011||Downpour on June 23 and 24, 2011, in the Outaouais|
|September 2009||Dry spell, september 2009|
|August 2009||August 14-18, 2009 Heat wave
August 4 Mont-Laurier Tornado
|June-July 2009||Thunderstorms, Tornadoes and Heavy rain, July 11, 2009
Rain Spell June 28 to July 4, 2009
|January 2009||Cold Spell January 14 to 18, 2009|
|October 2008||Heavy rain - October 26-28, 2008|
|September 2008||Remnants of tropical storm "Ike" - September 14-15, 2008|
|July-August 2008||Heavy Rainfall - July 31 to August 3, 2008|
|July 2008||Flooding in Haute-Mauricie - July 22 and 23, 2008|
|June 2008||Severe Thunderstorms and High Winds of June 10, 2008|
|May 2008||Heavy Rainfall in Southwestern Quebec - May 31, 2008|
|April-May 2008||Heavy Rainfall - April 28 to May 2, 2008|
|March 2008||Quebec, March 7-9, 2008: Winter Storm|
|January 2008||January 7 to 10, 2008: Thaws and High Winds|
|December 2007||Snow Storm - December 16 and 17, 2007|
|August 2007||Torrential Rain on August 8 and 9, 2007, Rivière-au-Renard, Quebec (.pdf)|
Past Significant Events Reports
- Hot and Dry Weather of the Summer of 2001 in Southwestern Quebec
- Winds of February 10 to11, 2001 : Description of Storm and Climatological Characterization of Winds
- Winds of December 18-19, 2000 : Summary of Storm Event
- The Derecho of 4-5 July 1999 in Southern Quebec
- The Ice Storm 1998: Maps and Facts Activity, Statistics Canada
- A Climatological Account Of The January 1998 Ice Storm In Quebec, 87 pages (fees applicable: for information or to order)
- Torrential rains of July 18th to 21st 1996, in the province of Quebec: Analysis and interpretation of meteorological data, 103 pages (fees applicable: for information or to order).
- July 14th 1987 Rainstorm In The Montreal Area , 52 pages (fees applicable: for information or to order)
- The Snowstorm of the Century : The Snow Just Kept On Falling from March 3 to 5, 1971
- Overview of Heavy Rainfall Events in Quebec