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About the "Weather Winners" Study

The 100 Cities

From the 2001 Canadian census, the top 100 cities population were selected, based on population. This represents about 70% of the Canadian population. To be chosen for the list, a city had to have a population of at least 15,000 people, and an official weather station nearby where Environment Canada instruments are used and standard observing procedures followed. For cities without a complete weather observing program, one or more nearby weather stations were used to generate representative values for the area, where possible.

The Canadian "weather winners" listed here are compiled for 100 cities but they do not necessarily represent the extremes for the entire country. Quite likely, higher amounts of rainfall, colder temperatures and stronger winds have occurred in many smaller communities not included in the list of familiar locations. Often, small out-of-the-way places are the true weather champions in Canada. For example, Glacier National Park (Mt. Fidelity) BC with its 1471 cm of average annual snowfall, or Manyberries AB with 2568 sunshine hours annually, or St. Lawrence NF with 132 foggy days a year, are the true weather champions in these respective categories.

The 72 Weather Categories

Among the weather elements analyzed in this study were: temperature, rain and snow, bright sunshine, atmospheric pressure, visibility, cloud cover, wind speed, humidity and the state of the weather ( e.g., thunderstorms, blowing snow, fog, smoke and haze. From these basic elements, 72 weather categories were created by season or by year (for example, the city with the sunniest winter or the foggiest year-round community).

Determining which place is the weather winner depends on how the category is defined. For example, which city can lay claim to being the sunniest place in Canada? Is that the sunniest day, month, summer or year on average? For this study, the sunniest city was defined as the community with the greatest number of hours with bright sunshine year-round. Since this weather element generates a great deal of interest, a total of nine categories were created for "the sunniest", including seasonal information (such as "the sunniest winter") and tallies both by number of hours of sunshine, and number of days with sunshine. Many of the definitions, such as hot days (30° C or higher), or cold days
(-20 ° C or lower) are standard meteorological concepts.

The Timeframe -- 30 years

The basic data unit used in this study was the climate "normal." A normal is an average of a weather element (such as temperature or rainfall) for a specific location over a relatively long period of time. The time frame is usually three consecutive 10-year periods. In keeping with international standards, countries re-compute their normals every decade to keep up with any changes in climate. In 2003, Environment Canada's Meteorological Service compiled a new set of climate normals for Canada covering the period 1971 to 2000. The published normals and companion statistics are used as the basic data reference for the next 10 years.

This site can display the top-to-bottom rankings for each weather category for all cities analyzed. Because it was not possible to compute normals for all categories for all 100 stations, some of the elements (about 15) were based on only 82 cities. However, for the 50 largest Canadian cities, there is a full complement of information.

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