Top 10 Weather Stories of 2023 shared by Environment Canada’s Chief Climatologist

Environment Canada's head climatologist shares his top 10 weather stories of 2023

“Canada’s Top 10 Weather Stories of 2023: A Year of Extremes

As we bid adieu to 2023, it’s time to take a look back at the top weather-related events that shaped the year. From wildfires to tornadoes, and everything in between, Canada experienced a rollercoaster of weather phenomena. Let’s dive into the top 10 weather stories of 2023, as compiled by Environment Canada head climatologist David Phillips.

1. Wildfires – A Record Year
Wildfires swept through nearly every corner of Canada, with the total amount of forest burned doubling the previous record. The impact of these fires was felt far and wide, leaving behind destruction and loss.

2. Choking on Wildfire Smoke
Some Canadian cities experienced air quality as bad as anywhere on Earth, as they were blanketed by the smoke from raging wildfires. The detrimental effects of this smoke on human health and the environment cannot be overstated.

3. The Hottest Summer in 76 Years
2023 brought with it the hottest summer in 76 years, dating back to the start of national record-keeping in 1948. The scorching temperatures left many Canadians seeking relief from the relentless heat.

4. Nova Scotia Deluge
Parts of Nova Scotia faced their heaviest rains in more than half a century, resulting in devastating floods that claimed lives, including those of two young children. The impact of this deluge was felt throughout the province.

5. Wet East and Dry West
While eastern provinces grappled with excessive rainfall, the West faced an entirely different problem – extreme dryness. The imbalance in precipitation had far-reaching consequences on water sources and ecosystems.

6. Hurricane Lee and its Aftermath
Although not as destructive as Hurricane Fiona, Hurricane Lee still packed a punch, leaving 350,000 homes in Nova Scotia without power. The aftermath of the hurricane brought about significant challenges for the affected communities.

7. April Ice Storm
A rare early April ice storm brought 12 hours of freezing rain in Montreal and nine in Ottawa. The resulting glaze of ice, accompanied by powerful winds, made for treacherous conditions in these cities.

8. Extreme Cold Spells
Despite the overall warmth of the year, late January and February saw extreme cold warnings issued for several provinces and territories, shattering temperature records. This drastic shift in temperature brought its own set of challenges.

9. Quebec Floods
Heavy rains in July led to overflowing riverbanks in central and southern Quebec, causing roads to collapse and resulting in tragic losses. The destructive power of flooding was on full display in these regions.

10. Alberta Tornado
Canada Day marked a terrifying event north of Calgary, as a tornado with winds exceeding 275 kilometres per hour wreaked havoc and unleashed tennis ball-sized hail. The impact of this powerful tornado was felt far and wide.

As we reflect on the weather events that defined 2023, it’s crucial to recognize the impact of these phenomena on communities, ecosystems, and infrastructure. These stories serve as a reminder of the unpredictable and often destructive nature of the elements. They also underscore the urgency of addressing climate change and developing strategies to mitigate its effects. Let’s take these tales of extreme weather as a call to action, urging us to work towards a more resilient and sustainable future.”



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