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The top 25 storms of the past 25 years

Digital writers

Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 8:01 PM -

A quarter century is a long time to be on the air. Over the course of 25 years, we've been there for a huge number of thunderstorms, blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes and every other manner of severe weather from British Columbia to Newfoundland.

It wasn't easy, but we narrowed down the staggering list of severe weather events we've covered to this selection of those that really stood out.

If you were there for any of these, share your memories in the comments section! Otherwise, here's a look back.

The Calgary, Alta., hailstorm, September 7, 1991

For 30 minutes around dinner time on September 7, 1991, big chunks of ice pelted Calgarians' homes and vehicles. And by 'big', we mean up to 10 cm, a third the length of your average ruler.

The barrage split trees and broke windows and siding. Most birds caught in it didn't have a chance.

When it finally passed, the hailstorm left behind enough damaged property and dented cars to bring the total losses past the $300 million mark.

At the time, it was the most destructive hailstorm ever, and Canada's second costliest.

The Saguenay, Que., flood, July 19-20, 1996

This massive flood event shattered records in Quebec and Canada, due to its sheer volume and cost.

A massive storm pounded the region with around 280 mm of rain in just a few hours, producing the largest overland deluge in Canada up to that point in the 20th Century - about the same as the amount of water that flows over Niagara Falls in a two-month period.

Parts of Chicoutimi and La Baie were submerged in more than 2 m of water.

The flooding and mudslides that resulted drove 16,000 people from their homes. Ten people lost their lives, around 488 homes were completely destroyed, and another 1,230 damaged. 

The total losses from this destructive flood came to more than $1.5 billion, Canada's first-ever billion-dollar disaster. It wouldn't be the last.

B.C.'s "Whitemare" winter storms, December 1996

This was NOT your typical B.C. winter.

The balmy west coast saw a series of storms in the last 10 days of December that dumped more than 100 cm of snow at the airport in the capital Victoria, with major amounts in Vancouver as well.

In Victoria itself, 65 cm of snow was recorded on December 29, breaking the all-time record for the city, and even outstripping records in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.

The massive snowfall forced officials to call in the army to help with the cleanup, for the first time since 1916.

Manitoba's Red River Flood of Spring 1997

For people along Manitoba's Red River, this was the flood of the century, and with good reason.

All the ingredients were there to make the annual rise in water levels a big one: Frozen, saturated soil, a deep snowpack and record-high water content.

It all came together to push the waters of the Red River 12 m above flood level, inundating 1,840 square kilometres of land and forcing 28,000 to flee to safety.

The waters crested in Winnipeg on May 2, and when they finally subsided, the damages came to around $500 million.

The Ice Storm of the Century, 1998

From January 4 to January 10, this storm transformed eastern Canada from Ontario's Georgian Bay to the Bay of Fundy in the Maritimes to an frozen landscape encrusted with thick ice.

The water equivalent of freezing rain and ice pellets exceeded 100 mm in some regions, and some kind of freezing precipitation held on for more than 80 hours.

The region was all but paralyzed, and power infrastructure was wrecked. Around 1,000 transmission towers and 30,000 utility poles were damaged or toppled, along with millions of trees.

The human cost: As many as 35 dead. Insured losses came to $1.5 million, and government and industry contributions would push the total cost of the storm to more than $3 billion.

NEXT: Toronto's snowstorm of the century

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