Canada's top 10 weather stories for 2014: Quebec highlights

1. Flash Freeze

Ahead of a winter blast of teeth-chattering frigid temperatures on January 7, freezing rain and melting temperatures (some 5 to 10 degrees above normal) led to wet and slippery streets and sidewalks in Montreal. The subsequent flash freeze turned slushy surfaces into skating rinks that caused several accidents, road closures and power outages. Wind gusts of up to 90 km/h blew Christmas trees onto roads and sent garbage cans rolling down streets. Behind the system, temperatures plummeted. Extreme wind chills dipped between -40 and -43 in Abitibi, Bonnard, Manuane, Matagami and Washkaganish.

2. January Snow Squalls

Blowing snow and icy roads on January 27 made for dangerous driving in Quebec causing a 40-vehicle pileup on Highway 15 near Ste-Adèle. Collisions injured 30 people with seven hospitalized. Rough weather also led to the closure of several other highways. Heavy snow squalls impeded visibility in a matter of seconds leading to several fatal accidents. Black ice also contributed to the hazardous driving conditions. North of Montreal, a major pileup involved nearly 50 vehicles.

3. Too Cold to Snow

Montreal was cold in January but not snowy. Only 15 cm of snow fell in the city (normal is 50 cm), making it the most snowless January since 1988 when 14 cm fell. Snowfall in Bagotville was also scant, with a meagre 13 cm falling (normal 69 cm), making it the least snowy January since record-keeping began in 1942.

4. Ever a March More Miserable

March temperatures were between 3 and 6°C colder than normal across Quebec − the coldest of the past 30 years. Lake and river ice was much thicker than normal and covered larger extents. Snow cover at the end of March was two to three times thicker than normal over southern Quebec, with Sherbrooke reaching a record of 103 cm of snow compared to a normal of 49 cm.

5. Rare Night-time Tornadoes

On July 9, a vigorous cold front pushed through southern Quebec near Montreal, Montérégie, Lanaudière, the Laurentians, Mauricie and the Eastern Townships, bringing heavy rain and strong wind gusts. Rare nocturnal tornadoes with Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF)2 speeds of 150 km/h struck Saint-Fabien-de-Panet, and an EF1 tornado with 130 km/h winds struck Sainte-Apolline-de-Patton in Bellechasse. Wooded areas showed evidence of twisters, with long stretches of uprooted trees, broken branches and flooded roads. A subsequent survey identified another EF1 tornado that struck near Lake Saint Francis at Lambton in the Eastern Townships.

6. Quebec Microburst

A microburst packing winds between 90 and 130 km/h caused extensive damage in Pointe-du-Lac on July 31. The storm uprooted about 20 mature trees, tossed catamarans and damaged some highway infrastructure, forcing the closure of Highway 40. In Drummondville, torrential rains of 37 mm and hail of up to 3 cm fell in a matter of minutes flooding several properties. At around 4:30 p.m., an EF1 tornado with winds of 150 km/h caused damage to houses in Pont-Rouge near Quebec City.

7. Down on the Farm

In Abitibi-Témiscamingue a series of large, slow-moving weather systems made October gloomy and wet. The storms brought wind gusts of over 50 km/h and devastating hail, along with heavy rains that wreaked havoc with soybean farmers who lost nearly 85 per cent of their crop. Other large crop losses in the area included cereals, canola and corn.

8. November Gales

On November 24, unseasonably warm and humid air from Texas triggered a line of thunderstorms more typical of summer weather that moved through the southern Outaouais and into Chaudière-Appalaches. In southern Quebec, maximum temperatures - some occurring at night - soared 10 to 15 degrees above normal. In Montreal, for example, temperatures reached a balmy 18°C. Powerful winds of up to 107 km/h broke hydro poles, felled trees, shattered bus shelters, left traffic lights dangling and caused power outages for 54,000 Hydro-Québec customers. The hardest hit areas were in the Laurentides, Lanaudière and Lower St. Lawrence. In the cold air over northern Quebec, snow fell in abundance with 25 cm coating LG 4 East and Lake Pau.

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