February 29th, 2024

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

By The Canadian Press on December 20, 2023.

People take to the waters and shores of the Ottawa River in the Ottawa suburb of Constance Bay on Tuesday, July 6, 2023. It was the warmest summer in 76 years, dating back to the start of national record-keeping in 1948. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

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 10- kilometre-an-hour 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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