Many Canadians long for the time of year when winter ends and the ice on lakes and rivers thaws. Spring brings melting snow and reveals long-awaited spring flowers. But spring isn’t only the start of the barbecue season in Canada; it’s also the time of year when flooding is at its worst.
With many areas in Canada experiencing floods right now, here are some flood facts:
- According to Environment Canada, floods are the costliest natural disaster in Canada in terms of property damage. They are also the most common Canadian natural disaster, with about 40 per cent of floods occurring in April and May.
- Coastal storms, ice jams, snowmelt runoff and rainstorms are all causes of floods in Canada. Even tsunamis cause flooding of our country’s waters. In 1929, an earthquake off Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula caused a tsunami, resulting in 28 deaths.
- A hurricane caused the worst flood in Ontario’s history. Hazel hit Toronto on Oct. 14, 1954, taking 81 lives and causing an estimated $146.9 million (1998 dollars) in damages.
- On May 30, 1961, 254 millimetres of rain fell in one hour in Buffalo Gap, Sask. According to Environment Canada data, this is the briefest, most intense flash flood we know of in Canadian history.
- Manitoba’s Red River is infamous for its spring floods. Its worst flood on record was in 1826, during which, the estimated flow rate was 6,371 cubic metres per second. But don’t worry — a flood of that magnitude occurs only about once every 667 years.
- What was Canada’s first billion dollar natural disaster? The 1996 floods in Quebec’s Saguenay region win that dubious honour, costing about $1.5 billion.
- The costliest natural disaster in Canada goes to last year’s Alberta floods, which caused an estimated $5 billion dollars in damages.