Eastern Canadian Blizzard of March 1971

Eastern Canadian Blizzard of March 1971

Infobox winter storm|name=Eastern Canadian Blizzard of March 1971
image location=

stormtype=Nor'easter/Atlantic Ocean coastal low
date formed=March 3, 1971
date dissipated=March 5, 1971
maximum amount= 32.1 inches of snow (80 cm) in Mont Apica, Quebec cite web|title = "The Snowstorm of the Century" - The Snow Just Kept On Falling from March 3 to 5, 1971|publisher = CRIACC|url = http://www.criacc.qc.ca/villes/TheSnowstormoftheCentury.pdf|date = March 2001]
pressure=966 mb
maximum waves=
total damages (USD)= at least $1 million
total fatalities=at least 30 cite web|title= 4 mars 1971 - Début de la «tempête du siècle» au Québec|publisher = Sherbrooke University|url = http://bilan.usherbrooke.ca/bilan/pages/evenements/2294.html|accessdate = 2008-04-26]
areas affected= Eastern North America

The Eastern Canadian Blizzard of March 1971 was a severe winter storm that struck portions of eastern Canada from March 3 to March 5, 1971. The storm is also nicknamed the "Storm in the Century" in Quebec as being the worst 24-hour snowfall event on record in the city of Montreal were 43 centimeters (17.2 inches) of snow fell on March 4 for a total of 47 centimeters (18.8 inches) while some areas received as much as 80 centimeters (32 inches) of snow over higher terrain in eastern Quebec. Heavy snowfall also fell in eastern Ontario and northern New Brunswick as well as parts of the Northeastern United States. The storm itself was responsible for the deaths of 17 people in Montreal (30 province-wide) along with numerous other injuries directly and indirectly attributed to the blizzard.

Blizzard event

A coastal low pressure system, called a Nor'easter developed across the coastal United States late on March 3, 1971. The system rapidly intensified as it moved towards the Northeast States as well as Quebec and eastern Ontario. The storm center had a rapid pressure drop to 966 millibars as it was center over New York before moving across New Brunswick exiting the province of Quebec during the morning of March 5.

Snow started across most of the affected areas on March 3 with the peak of the storm during most of the day on March 4 where for a period of up to 17 hours there was at least moderate snow and blowing snow in Montreal. Visibility was also significantly reduced for nearly 24 hours. The 47 centimeters (18.8 inches) makes it one of the heaviest snowfall on records for Montreal with 43 centimeters (17.2 inches) on March 4, making the snowiest day on record. However, storms in December 1969 left 58 centimeters (23.2 inches) in three days across the city making it the most significant snowfall event from one system. Other systems in 1954, 1955 and 2001 had higher total snowfalls for one event then in 1971 – making it the fifth heavy snowfall in one single event.cite web|title = La troisième tempête la plus importante en 60 ans|publisher= LCN|url = http://lcn.canoe.ca//infos/regional/archives/2001/03/20010324-094820.html|date = March 24, 2001]

Elsewhere across Quebec, 80 centimeters (32 inches) of snow fell in the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve north of Quebec City while 65 to 75 centimeters (26 to 30 inches) of snow fell locally in the Gaspesie, Bas-Saint-Laurent and Eastern Townships regions south of the Saint Lawrence River. Up to 40 centimeters (16 inches) of snow fell in the Ottawa and Quebec City regions.

The heavy snow was accompanied by damaging wind gusts of near hurricane-force winds which created snowdrifts of up to two stories high in some places. Widespread power outages were reported and some were left without power for up to ten days. The city of Montreal was left paralyzed following the storm for a few days. Bus service was stopped and snowmobiles was the easiest transportation option possible throughout the city while bridges and roads were completely shut down. For the first time in over 50 years a Montreal Canadians National Hockey League game at the Montreal Forum was postponed.cite web|title = Il y a 30 ans, la «tempête du siècle» s'abattait sur le Québec|publisher = LCN|url = http://lcn.canoe.ca/infos/national/archives/2001/03/20010304-093910.html|date= March 4, 2001] 17 people were killed in Montreal while there were several other injuries related to the storm. Fatalities were resulted by heart attacks or people stuck inside stranded vehicles. At least 2 people were killed in the Quebec City region and at least 30 fatalities were reported province-wide. It took at least 36 hours to clean-up the worst of the storm and to resume regular traffic although snow clearing operations lasted for several days.cite web|title = Top Weather Events of the 20th Century|publisher = Environment Canada|url = http://www.msc-smc.ec.gc.ca/media/top10/century_e.html?|accessdate= 2008-04-26] Initial damage estimates were at about $1 million (1971 dollars) for central Quebec including 50 homes that received roof damage. Businesses also sustained window damage some due to flying debris particularly in the Limoilou area of Quebec City.cite web|author = Cazes, Jean|title = Souvenirs: La “Tempête du siècle” s’abat sur Québec!|publisher = Quebec Urbain|url = http://www.quebecurbain.qc.ca/2006/03/04/souvenirs-la-tempete-du-siecle-sabat-sur-quebec/|date = March 4, 2006]

Historical perspective

The 1970-1971 winter season was the worst on record for many areas of eastern Ontario and southern Quebec in terms of all-time snowfall records. Ottawa had received up to 444 centimeters of snow (177.6 inches) that year and Montreal just over 380 centimeters (152 inches), records that were nearly broken during the 2007-08 season when Ottawa received 436 centimeters (174.4 inches) and Montreal 375 centimeters (150 inches). Quebec City also received had their worst season in 1970-71 with 460 centimeters (184 inches) before it was broken in 2007-08 when just over 500 centimeters (200 inches) fell.cite web|author = Ward, Bruce|title = Rain, warmer temperatures to zap remaining snow, but... | publisher = The Ottawa Citizen|url = http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=31af9803-8d8c-45f9-99bc-51f7c70864cc&k=52991|date = April 7, 2008] cite web|title = Une autre tempête de neige à Québec| publisher = LCN|url = http://lcn.canoe.ca//infos/national/archives/2008/04/20080412-072409.html|date = April 12, 2008] cite web|title = Le Québec s'apprête à battre des records|publisher = LCN|url = http://lcn.canoe.ca/infos/national/archives/2008/03/20080309-173321.html|date = March 9, 2008]

The record snowfall may have been a contributing for a deadly mudslide in the town of Saint-Jean-Vianney in May 1971 when heavy rains combined with already saturated grounds because of heavy melting snow formed a large sinkhole of about 600 meters wide and 30 meters deep. 31 people were killed by the mudslide.


External links

* [http://www.criacc.qc.ca/villes/TheSnowstormoftheCentury.pdf CRIACC Commemorative report on the Montreal Storm of the Century]
* [http://www.climate.weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca/climateData/hourlydata_e.html?timeframe=1&Prov=XX&StationID=5415&Year=1971&Month=3&Day=4 Hourly Observations at Trudeau International Airport on March 4, 1971]
* [http://www.climate.weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca/climateData/hourlydata_e.html?timeframe=1&Prov=XX&StationID=4337&Year=1971&Month=3&Day=4 Hourly Observations at Ottawa International Airport on March 4, 1971]
* [http://www.climate.weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca/climateData/hourlydata_e.html?timeframe=1&Prov=CA&StationID=5251&Year=1971&Month=3&Day=4& Hourly Observation at Québec/Jean Lesage International Airport on March 4, 1971]
* [http://archives.radio-canada.ca/societe/faits_divers/clips/565-2894/ Radio-Canada video of the Blizzard of 1971]

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