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Floods top weather stories of 2013

Floods top weather stories of 2013A flooded Calgary Stampede stadium is seen from a aerial view in Calgary Saturday, June 22, 2013. Environment Canada says floods were big newsmakers in Canada in 2013, and June's record flooding in Calgary and southern Alberta leads its Top 10 weather stories of the year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

TORONTO - Floods were big newsmakers in 2013, and June's record flooding in Calgary and southern Alberta leads Environment Canada's Top 10 weather stories of the year.

Torrential downpours overwhelmed vast areas of southern Alberta, forcing 100,000 people from their homes and causing billions of dollars in damage.

David Phillips, Environment Canada's senior climatologist, called it "the flood of floods" and one of the "most disruptive" storm events in Canadian history.

"The sheer volume and the force of the raging waters inflicted really permanent scars on the province," he said in a news conference Thursday.

Three weeks later, flooding in another part of the county made No. 2 on the list as large parts of downtown Toronto were inundated by more rain in two hours than Toronto usually sees in the entire month of July.

"When you look at the amounts of rain that fell...it was like Toronto was the bull's eye," Phillips said, who described it as "a direct hit with a drenching rain storm."

The Insurance Bureau of Canada has said the two events constitute the first and third largest natural insured catastrophes in Canadian history.

Torrential April showers and a sudden snowmelt in Ontario's cottage country that engorged rivers and raised water to historic flood levels not seen in 100 years also made the list at No. 7.

A powerful storm that led to the drowning of five young fishers off Nova Scotia was No. 9.

The mid-February storm "was not the most powerful, not the biggest, but it was the most tragic," Phillips said.

Lack of flooding also made the list, as Environment Canada says it seemed another major Red River Valley flood was inevitable, but cold spring days and very cold nights allowed a slow, gradual melt.

That story placed fourth, just ahead of bumper crops in the west at No. 3, while B.C.'s record-breaking sunshine in July, when not a single drop of rain was recorded in Vancouver and Victoria, was No. 10.

Environment Canada uses "rebound" to describe the stories it placed at No. 5 on the list.

The coldest summer in 15 years in the eastern Arctic helped slow sea ice melting in the Canadian Arctic Ocean to within three per cent of the normal minimum coverage and resulted in the greatest ice extent since 2005. And the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence was more than 13 per cent wetter than normal, which helped restore water levels.

Other stories on the list include wicked winter weather in the East at No. 6, and the prairie winter that went on forever at No. 8.

Environment Canada notes that 2013 was another warm year in Canada - the 17th in a row - although not as warm as it's been in recent years.

Every region was warmer or near normal, especially southern British Columbia where climatologists recorded the region's fourth warmest December to November period in 66 years.

On the other hand, the Prairies measured just 0.1 degrees warmer than normal in 2013.

_With files from Paola Loriggio.

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