Environment: Extreme Weather
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Deadly Skies: Canada's Most Destructive Tornadoes
A tornado is the stuff of nightmares. Amid heavy rain and hail, huge thunderclouds roll in and the skies turn greenish-black. And then a rope-like funnel cloud punches down, smashing everything in its path. Tornadoes can be the most violent storms on earth, and Canada averages 80 of them each year. From scientists and storm chasers obsessed with their destructive power to the victims left in a twister's wake, we look at Canada's deadliest tornadoes of the past century.
Devastating Dry Spells: Drought on the Prairies
Blowing dust, swarms of grasshoppers, and not enough hay to feed the starving livestock. For Prairie farmers, drought can be disastrous. But it's not just the farmers who suffer — a severe drought in Western Canada can hurt the entire Canadian economy. From the devastating dustbowl years of the Great Depression to some of the more recent Prairie dry spells, CBC Archives explores the history of drought in Western Canada.
Extreme Weather General
Red River Rising: Manitoba Floods
The Cree called it Miscousipi, Red Water River, and warned early settlers of its hidden capacity for destruction. The river flooded in 1826, forcing the complete evacuation of the 10-year-old Red River colony. But most settlers refused to give up. Winnipeg, the city they built on the Red River's banks, has braved disaster again and again – in 1950, 1966, 1979, and again, dramatically, in 1997.
The Ice Storm of 1998
Canadians had never before endured a natural disaster like the ice storm of 1998. A difficult morning of car scraping quickly turned into a state of emergency from eastern Ontario to southern Quebec. Millions huddled in the dark by their fireplaces. Many suffered from hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning. Heavy ice sheets toppled huge power pylons and in just six days an electrical system that took decades to create was razed.
The Ocean Ranger Disaster
Valentine's Day, 1982: a terrible storm rages off the coast of Newfoundland. On the Grand Banks, the Ocean Ranger, the world's mightiest drilling rig, is pounded by waves more than 20 metres high. At the height of the storm, the "indestructible" rig begins to tip over, then capsizes. All 84 men on board — 56 of them from Newfoundland — perish. It is Canada's worst tragedy at sea since the Second World War.
The Saguenay Flood
For two days in July 1996, torrential rains pounded the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec and caused the worst flood in the province's history. The floodwaters were so powerful they swept away a whole shopping complex, ripped apart homes and buried cars under mud. Scientists said it was a natural disaster likely to happen once every 10,000 years. The government called it "an act of God."
The Wrath of Hurricane Hazel
On Oct. 15, 1954, the most famous hurricane in Canadian history struck Southern Ontario. Hurricane Hazel pounded the city of Toronto with 110 km/hr winds and more than 200 millimetres of rain in less than 24 hours. Bridges and streets were washed out, homes and trailers were washed into Lake Ontario. Thousands were left homeless, and 81 were killed – 35 of them on one street alone.