Ottawa in 2050: Extreme weather events

By 2050 there will be an increased likelihood of extreme weather events such as flooding, heat waves, ice storms and tornadoes.

Ottawa’s weather is becoming more variable and unpredictable. In recent years we have experienced more extreme heat, wind, rain and snow. Climate science tells us that these trends will continue in the next decades.

Some examples of extreme weather events in Ottawa include:

  • Five successive ice storms in January 1998, which caused massive damage to trees and electrical infrastructure causing widespread power outages and a shutdown of activities across Ottawa and the region for several weeks
  • Over 50 cm of snow in February 2016, which caused closures throughout the city and set a new record for the biggest snowfall in a single day
  • Significant flooding along the Ottawa River in the spring of 2017 and 2019 resulted in extensive property damage and health concerns
  • Tornadoes in 2018 and 2019 caused extensive damage to property and power outages.
  • A prolonged extreme heat event that lasted six days in July 2018. On Canada Day, at the hottest time of the day, humidex levels made it feel like 47 degrees Celsius.

What we are expecting

By the 2050s, under a high-emission scenario, we can expect:

  • More freezing rain, particularly in the winter
  • Favourable conditions for ice storms or severe snow storms, tornadoes and high wind gusts, droughts and wildfires

What are the potential impacts?

Public health and safety
Extreme events such as ice storms, tornadoes, floods and wildfires greatly affect the mental and physical health of those directly impacted and can have significant financial costs. They can cause extended power outages and put added strain on emergency services and costs to the City.

Damage to property and other infrastructure
Extreme events damage property and other infrastructure such as roads, pathways and communication and power lines. This is expensive to repair and can disrupt lives, local businesses and City services.

The impacts of climate change will be looked at in further detail as part of the climate vulnerability assessment.

Find out what the City is already doing to adapt to climate change.

Have your say

How will increased extreme weather events affect you and your community? How can we prepare for these changes? Share your ideas by completing the survey.

Your input will help us assess how Ottawa is vulnerable to climate change and inform the development of the climate resiliency strategy.

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