Remember when Canada's 'snow-free city' was completely shut down by snow?

December 29, 1996 featured the largest one-day snowfall in Victoria's history.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.


Sometimes Mother Nature just takes over and halts a city. On December 29, 1996, a snowstorm completely shut down Victoria, British Columbia.

Victoria is known as the country's "snow-free city." The total December average for snowfall in Victoria is 13.7 cm.

On the 29th, which was a Sunday, 65 cm of snow fell on Victoria. This broke the city's record from 1916 when 55 cm fell.

Snow on streets

Photo by The Weather Network

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Before we get into the details of what went down that day, it's worth mentioning that the Canadian military was called in to assist with rescuing stranded motorists.

Three years after this snowstorm, Toronto was pummelled with snow. Mel Lastman, Toronto's mayor at the time, called in the military to help re-mobilize the city and received a ton of backlash for making that call. There didn't seem to be the same response for Victoria's use of the military. Back to the storm.

Every form of transportation was affected by the storm. Victoria International Airport and Vancouver International Airport were both brought to a standstill. The snow cleaning crew couldn't keep up with the constant snowfall and accumulation.

snowy car

Photo by The Weather Network

Ferry services were also shut down; neither staff nor passengers could get to the ferry terminals.

Public transportation was cancelled and people were trapped at their current location. This was a huge issue for critical care environments.

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Hospital and nursing home professionals could not get to work, so those who were already there had to take extra shifts. And there were supply issues with vital medication.

Few businesses weren't impacted. All malls, restaurants, and grocery stores were closed, resulting in the loss of thousands of dollars of perishable goods.

Snowy car

Courtesy of YouTube/Paradoxdesigns

The snow also racked up millions of dollars worth of infrastructure damages. Learn more about this record-breaking snowstorm on today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

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Thumbnail image from The Weather Network