Environment Canada’s head climatologist shares his top 10 weathers stories of 2023

Here’s a quick list of Canada’s top 10 weather stories for 2023, as compiled by Environment Canada head climatologist David Phillips.

1. Wildfires — Nearly every jurisdiction in Canada had them this year, and the total amount of forest burned doubled the previous record.

2. Wildfire Smoke — Some Canadian cities had air quality as bad as anywhere on Earth as wildfires raged. 

3. Hottest Summer — It was the warmest summer in 76 years, dating back to the start of national record-keeping in 1948.

4. Nova Scotia Deluge — Some parts of the province had their heaviest rains in more than half a century. Four lives were lost, including two young children.

5. Wet East and Dry West — As eastern provinces wrung themselves out, the West was parched. In some river basins, glacier-fed waters were the lowest in a century.

6. Hurricane Lee — It was no Hurricane Fiona, but Lee still managed to blow at more than 100 kilometres per hour and leave 350,000 Nova Scotia homes without power. 

7. April Ice Storm — An early April storm dropped 12 hours of freezing rain in Montreal and nine in Ottawa. Up 37 millimetres of ice glazed everything, accompanied by 60-kilometre-an-hour wind gusts. 

8. Cold spells — Despite the overall warmth of 2023, extreme cold warnings were issued for eight provinces and three territories in late January and February, shattering several temperature records.

9. Quebec Floods — Central and southern Quebec were plagued by heavy rains in July that overflowed riverbanks. In Rivière-Eternité, roads collapsed, killing two people.

10. Alberta Tornado — Canada Day saw a tornado north of Calgary that delivered powerful winds and tennis ball-sized hail. Estimated wind speeds topped 275 kilometres an hour. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 20, 2023. 

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