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10 surprising facts about Canadian weather


Posted by in Nature on Tuesday, November 11, 2014



Photo: Rogier Gruys

Last week, I shared a selection of my favourite stats and feats) from my new book Canadian Geographic Biggest and Best of Canada: 1000 Facts & Figures (in stores now!). If you enjoy trivia, particularly Canadian trivia, or have a particular fascination with Canadian facts and accomplishments, you’ll surely enjoy my book. In the hopes of further capturing your interest, over the coming weeks I’m sharing a top-10 selection of items from each category that particularly stood out for me. This week: weather.

1. As far as countries go, Canada is pretty much the coolest — literally. It vies with Russia for first place as the coldest nation in the world, with an average daily annual temperature of —5.6șC.

2. Brrr. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Canada and North America? The village of Snag, Yukon, registered —63șC on February 3, 1947.

3. Canada is deadly cold. More Canadians die each year from exposure to extreme cold temperatures than from other natural events, according to Statistics Canada. An average of 108 people die annually from the cold, while only 17 succumb to other nature-related events.

4. Get the shovel, er, shovels! The greatest single-day snowfall recorded in Canada was February 11, 1999, when Tahtsa, British Columbia, was blanketed with nearly a metre and a half of the white stuff (145 cm, to be exact). That broke a record of 118.1 cm of snow that fell on Lakelse Lake, British Columbia, on January 17, 1974. Neither is near the world record of 192 cm, set at Silver Lake, Colorado, on April 15, 1921.

5. Canada’s coldest city? A tie between Saskatoon and Regina, with —50șC recorded on February 1, 1893, and January 1, 1885, respectively. The most recent sub —40șC temperature recorded in a Canadian city? Sherbrooke, Quebec, at —41.2șC on January 15, 2004.

6. As most Canadians know and have experienced, this country can deliver a wide range of temperatures, from cold winter nights to hot summer days. Interestingly, among Canada’s large cities, Regina lays claim to both the country’s lowest recorded temperature (see previous) and its highest. The city sweltered at 43.3șC on July 5, 1937. Likewise, Winnipeg and Saskatoon, both holding cold-weather records themselves, also posted some of the highest recorded temperatures for large Canadian cities; they tied for second place at 40.6°C (Winnipeg on August 7, 1949 and Saskatoon on June 5, 1988).

7. There’s a saying in Canada that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. Never could that have been more true than in Pincher Creek, Alberta, where Canada’s most extreme temperature change was recorded. The mercury soared from —19șC to 22șC in just one hour.

8. The Grand Banks off Newfoundland is considered the foggiest place in the world. The area experiences 40 per cent fog cover in the winter and up to 84 per cent in the summer.

9. This was one seriously big wave! On September, 11, 1995, the QE2 ocean liner was caught in Hurricane Luis off the coast of Newfoundland and was hit by a 30 m wave. This is the largest wave height ever recorded. The storm was also gigantic: it covered almost the entire north Atlantic.

10. For a nation that’s undoubtedly well known for its cool climate, it seems somewhat surprising that Canadians invented the UV Index, a measure of the intensity of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation in the sunburn spectrum. As UV increases, the sun’s rays can do more damage to skin, eyes and the immune system. In 1992, scientists at Environment Canada developed the index as a health protection tool for Canadians, and it is now forecast for 48 locations across the country.




  Comments (12)

Wow! A 145 centimeter snowfall in only a single day would have been quite a sight to see. I love the snow and would have been thrilled to go out and enjoy winter sports the day after. It's also extremely relaxing to enjoy the ethereal sense of silence after an impressive blizzard.

Submitted by Stephanie on Monday, November 17, 2014

I found the facts on our incredibly cold climate interesting. Living in Manitoba, I find it despairingly cold at the best of times in the heart of winter. I remember wishing several times I could live in the snow-free tropics of Hawaii—but alas, it was never meant to be. I still continue to tolerate the harsh weather. I did find an odd comfort knowing we are just as cold as Russia. For some reason, I’m thinking of that fact as bragging rights to show my fortitude and stamina for extreme temperatures. This is probably unfounded, but it makes me feel better.
P.S. How did they manage to measure that 30-metre wave? I would probably be too busy panicking to think, Hey! You wanna measure that incoming beast of a wave?

Submitted by Jenna English on Monday, November 17, 2014

You’ve never actually experienced cold weather until you’ve been to Canada. Have you ever stepped outside one evening to look at the sky, only to wake up in the morning and see 2 meters of snow on your deck? Come to Canada and experience this for yourself. Only in Canada in the middle of May is there snow still piled up on the ground. Layer after layer of clothing and you’re still COLD! If you’ve never been to Canada you would think the weather is bi-polar.

Submitted by Ashley on Monday, November 17, 2014

I tend to like the weather in Canada. In the back of my mind I have a secret belief. I believe that because our climate rates go from sweating hot to freezing cold we could make it through Global Warming. Maybe not through the entire happening of Global Warming, but I believe Canadians would be best suited to survive. Because we are used to drastic changes already, we would be able to adapt better than other countries. So yay for Mother Nature!

Submitted by Tabitha Funk on Monday, November 17, 2014

Born and raised in Manitoba, it’s normal and expected that we are bound to have -40℃ winters, and 40℃ summers. As much as I hate getting into my car in the mornings when I know it’s that cold out, I also find it pretty cool that we can withstand such drastic temperature changes and adapt so well— us brave Manitobans. With our frigid winters and scolding-hot summers there is one thing that is guaranteed— our copious amounts of sun, which all-in-all is the most important thing to me.

Submitted by Kaitlyn on Monday, November 17, 2014

I enjoyed reading about the incredible facts of our country's weather and extreme temperatures. Although we do live in extreme and harsh temperatures, I enjoy the snow falls and cold winter nights. Its somewhat relaxing to watch the snowflakes fall and eventually fill our yards. People may grumble and complain about it but in reality almost everyone enjoys the benefits of our cold snowy weather and freezing temperatures. Ice skating, sledding and hockey games are great benefits that we are lucky to enjoy. It keeps us physically active whether if we need to shovel our driveways out or simply play and act like children again in the snow.

Submitted by Lauren JVR on Monday, November 17, 2014

The only constant thing is change. Climate in Canada is the epitome of this sentence. Coming from a region of India where I have never seen snow it is kind of exciting and scary to be a part of this cold place. I still wonder when I meet people who are excited about winters because I am secretly wishing that it might not snow this year.

Submitted by Jaskaran on Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Reading facts about where I live makes me want to get up and move. Maybe not to a tropical island but a little more south. Don’t get me wrong, Canada is a beautiful place and I would miss it dearly… Who am I kidding I would miss it too much and would probably move back right away.

Submitted by JEinarsson on Tuesday, November 18, 2014

People from around the world may say Canadians are insane for calling a -20șC winter temperature a nice day. What they don't realize is when you get used to the majority of the winter being -40șC, -20șC is a much more preferred temperature. Although we may sometimes complain about our drastic weather changes, we take pride in knowing we endure some of the coldest winters the world sees. Knowing that a hot summer is ahead of us, is what keeps us going. Our summers in Canada are something we take as much advantage of as we can, (seeing we only get 3 months of it).

Canadians will forever be known for being able to endure some of the most fluctuating temperatures. Even through all our crazy weather, Canadians will still stand strong and proud through the blizzards and the heat waves. So, if you plan on coming to Canada you better pack both shorts and a winter jacket, no matter what the season.

Submitted by Mariah on Friday, November 21, 2014

Being raised in Canada you get acquainted very quickly with the cold weather that sweeps across our nation every year. All around the world, people think Canadians are crazy because we think -20 is considered a nice day; and it is compared to the -40 we just had the day before.

Working in a business where people from different countries they ask “why don’t you just move?” My response is because Canada is my home. Regardless of all the crazy weather changes, it is one of the most beautiful countries and leaving would be too hard.

Submitted by Michaela on Monday, November 24, 2014

Oh, Canada! We are such a breath of fresh air. Our beautiful cover snowy trees, fresh snow over laying christmas lights with a colored aura glow, hot chocolate at the skating rink, and toboggans down a snowy patted hill (extra cushion in case you bite the snow).
Some might disagree with my love for Canadian winters, but I do not mind our supreme cold months. 145 inches of snow in one day, grab your snowboard! It sound like a perfect day to hit the slopes. Winters may be harsh here in ol Canada. But being a lover of snow and all the festivities that come along with it.
I don’t mind it one bit. Bring on the snow!

Submitted by Salena on Thursday, December 11, 2014

Canada is not as cold as everyone thinks it is. First of all, it never has snowed in May where I live and I live near Calgary, Alberta. In fact right now it is supposed to be 30 degrees out this week and its like 28 degrees right now. I don't think our weather is any different from some areas of the states. In fact, it stopped snowing in march for us this year, and we've had nice weather ever since. It only gets really cold in the northern parts of Canada. Its not even that bad.

Submitted by nathan on Wednesday, June 8, 2016

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