P.E.I.'s top 3 weather stories of 2014

Adam Fenech, director of UPEI's Climate Lab, and his team have determined the three most noteworthy weather events of the year.
A storm on Jan. 22 was one of several to hit P.E.I. last winter. (CBC)

"Islanders are defined by the weather. We live by it," said Adam Fenech, director of University of Prince Edward Island's Climate Lab.

Adam Fenech, director of the Climate Lab at the University of Prince Edward Island, says Islanders are defined by the weather. (CBC)
"While tragic at times, our weather brings out our great spirit of humanity, sense of community and commitment to always look out for each other … weather shapes who we are."

Fenech and his team have revealed what they believe are P.E.I's three most noteworthy weather events of 2014.

(And while the wet, windy Christmas Day was a likely contender, it happened too late to make the cut.)

1. Wicked winter

The cold, stormy winter of 2014 was the top weather story, says Fenech.

Over the past 30 years, there's been a definite downward trend in the amount of snow that P.E.I. has received, but not this past winter, which saw the most snow in 42 years, says Fenech.

In the period between the beginning of November 2013 and the end of March 2014, P.E.I. received about 417 centimetres of snow. That's the most since 1972, when 425 centimetres fell in the same period.

Last year's snowplow budget was blown by $2 million by the end of March. (CBC)
On average, the snowfall this past winter was almost 60 per cent more than what's usually expected. And it was particularly jarring, as the two previous winters had been very dry, says Fenech.

The winter of was colder than normal too, by almost 1.5 C. 

The winter of 2014 was much different than that of 1972.

By the end of March 1972, there were 80 days of snow, with many small snowstorms, none with accumulations above 25 cm. By the end of the same month in 2014, there were 47 days of snowfall and four major snowstorms: Dec. 22 (27 cm), Jan. 22 (37.4 cm), Feb. 19 (27.8 cm) and March 26 (48.5 cm).

However, by the end of May 1972, a total of 531 centimetres of snow had fallen, beating 2014's accumulation by 75 centimetres.

2. Early December rain storm

A rain storm in early December was one of the Climate Lab's top three weather events of 2014. During the storm, Mark Boulter's car fell into the water after a bridge collapsed in Milburn. (Submitted by Mark Boulter)
A strong nor'easter pounded the Island Dec. 10 with high winds and rain.

The University of Prince Edward Island climate station in Foxley River recorded over 156 millimetres of rain. That's close to the most rain ever recorded on P.E.I. in 24 hours.

The storm caused millions of dollars in damage to roads and bridges across the province.

A car fell into the water after flooding caused a bridge to collapse in Milburn, with the driver escaping with only minor scrapes. A vehicle got stuck in a sinkhole that had developed on Route 175 in Tyne Valley, but the two occupants were not injured.

A family of three including a young baby were rescued by Department of Transportation workers from a home in St. Lawrence in western P.E.I. because of flooding "coming up over our doorstep, coming up the stairs," as they left.

The Confederation Bridge was closed to motorcycles and high-sided vehicles such as trucks, tractor trailers, recreational vehicles and buses. Northumberland Ferries cancelled crossings to and from the Island for the day.

3. Hurricane Arthur

One of three boats that sunk at the Charlottetown Harbour during post-tropical storm Arthur. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)
Although Arthur had been downgraded to a post-tropical storm by the time it hit P.E.I. on July 5, it still packed a punch.

Arthur brought winds with gusts of almost 100 kilometres per hour, but only 12 millimetres of rain fell

The Island was spared flooding damage that occurred in other Atlantic provinces. Nevertheless, the wind sunk three boats in the Charlottetown harbour, and power was cut to roughly 5,000 Maritime Electric customers.

All of the Saturday night performances of the Cavendish Beach Music Festival were cancelled when travel woes grounded country-music stars Blake Shelton and Darius Rucker. And the PEI 2014 Celebration Zone at Confederation Landing in Charlottetown was closed the day after the storm while staff assessed the site for damage.

Trees were blown down across Charlottetown, changing the streetscape, and the Belvedere Golf Course clubhouse was damaged.

Arthur also caused some crop damage to the Island's ripe strawberries by the wind pushing the stems into the fruit.


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