- If you weren't around for Halloween 2019 in Montreal, you missed a pretty monumental event.
- Extreme weather had the mayor of Montreal (along with many neighbouring towns) actually postpone Halloween.
- Montreal's "Halloweengate" rainstorm has now made it on to Environment Canada's Top 10 Weather Stories of 2019.
It may seem like a lifetime ago now, but it wasn't so long ago that we were all on the edge of our seats wondering if Halloween would be cancelled two nights in a row. Yes, Halloween 2019 in Montreal (and much of Southern Quebec and Ontario) was a bit of an ordeal, with several towns and cities in Quebec actually postponing Halloween a day, meaning kids were out trick-or-treating on the 1st of November. This bizarre act of Mother Nature has been named one of the top 10 weather stories of the year by Environment Canada, who claim that it was the "Weather Witch" and not Mother Nature who was to blame for the whole fiasco.
In addition to the whimsical list of some frightening natural events, Environment Canada also uses the list to highlight the issue of "extreme weather," which is having more and more of an impact on Canadians from coast to coast.
"Canada is warming at nearly twice the global rate, with parts of western and northern Canada warming at a rate of three times the global average," Environment and Climate Change Canada explain.
"With warming, extreme weather events will happen more frequently," they add, explaining why "Canadians in every region of the country were affected by extreme weather or climate events."
And we were no different, here in Montreal.
If you don't remember, on the days leading up to Halloween this year, Environment Canada started to warn of heavy rain in conjunction with strong winds.
Before long, several towns around Montreal started to post notices suggesting the outdoor-centric holiday be celebrated a day later, to avoid the extreme weather.
Montreal mayor Valerie Plante soon followed suit, requesting that families take the weather announcement seriously and do their trick-or-treating on November 1, instead.
Reactions soon spurred the phrase "Halloweengate," and the city was divided. Was it a wise decision or were we being wussies?
And then... the storm continued. Wind and rain damaged houses and took down trees and powerlines across the province. Suddenly, people were wondering if Halloween was going to need to be postponed again.
Some regions even began to see the first hints of snow.
"Millions of children exchanged an evening of trick-or-treating in the rain for high winds blowing them around in total darkness the following evening, after damaging winds accompanied plunging temperatures," Environment Canada recalls in their Top 10 list.
Power was out for "nearly two million Quebecers" by November 1, making it "the biggest service interruption in the province in more than 20 years," with widespread outages in Montréal, Montérégie, the Laurentians, the Eastern Townships, Lanaudière, and the Beauce–Québec City region.
Elsewhere, the rain that totalled over 100 millimetres "swelled the Saint François River by more than seven metres, prompting evacuations from 250 buildings."
There were "several million dollars" in property losses from damages linked to downed trees, damaged roofs and siding.
"Authorities confirmed four deaths in Quebec," related to the historic Halloween storm.
A message from Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, highlights that this storm was one of many extreme weather events linked to climate change in our country this year.
"Climate change is the defining challenge of our time. Forest fires, floods, droughts, intensifying storms and extreme temperatures are having human and economic consequences for all Canadians.
Canada is committed to fighting climate change by setting a target of net-zero emissions by 2050, putting a price on pollution everywhere, protecting and conserving nature, and reducing plastic pollution."
Perhaps Mother Nature's costume this year was the Weather Witch... and her trick was getting back at us for treating ourselves to the whole bowl of candy when we really should be happy with just one.