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The total area burned – 184,493 square kilometers – doubled the previous record and increased the 10-year average seven-fold. Nearly a quarter of a million Canadians have had to leave their homes, including the entire city of Yellowknife. Nunavut had its first fire evacuation.
Infernos were ignited in almost every province and territory across the country, often at the same time. More than 10,800 firefighters, nearly half of them from abroad, were battling the fires in May.
They were still on site five months later.
Northern Quebec was particularly affected.
In Quebec, the Society for the Protection of Forests Against Fire estimated that more than 700 fires burned some 51,000 square kilometers of land, more than SOPFEU had ever recorded in a single season. Nearly 27,000 residents of around thirty municipalities were evacuated last summer.
In third place in the ranking: x27;hottest summer in Canada, right after wildfires and wildfire smoke.
The climate behaves normally when record high and low temperatures are roughly equal, said climatologist David Phillips. But this year, we weren't even close to the count.
Over the past two months, 650 heat records have been broken. How many cold records? None. It was so one-sided it’s scary.
A quote from David Phillips, chief climatologist at Environment Canada
Already in May, numerous heat records were broken in British Columbia.
Between May and September, all provinces and territories, #x27;except Atlantic Canada, recorded their five warmest months on record.
Kamloops, British Columbia, recorded 62 warm days temperatures above 30°C; Waters off the east coast were up to 5 degrees Celsius above normal.
- The year of record wildfires
- Canada draped in smoke
- The hottest summer on Earth and in Canada
- Deadly flood in Nova Scotia
- Dry conditions in the West and wet in the East
- Hurricane Lee, without measuring up to Fiona, was more than a windy day
- Ice storm in the Montreal-Ottawa corridor
- Waves cold in a hot year
- Floods: a record July in Quebec
- Canada Day tornado in Alberta
Source: David Philipps, climatologist, Environment Canada
Halifax could perhaps become Canada's weather powerhouse in 2023. Not only was Nova Scotia's capital threatened by a wildfire, but it faced significant flooding.
Spare a thought for the people of Nova Scotia, said Mr. Phillips. A year ago they had the costliest and most dangerous hurricane in Canadian history (Fiona) and they were still cleaning up. But rainfall in June was more than double normal, and it doubled in July, most of it falling in two days.
CN workers assess damage to a railroad track in the Truro, Nova Scotia area on Sunday, July 23, 2023. A long series of intense thunderstorms dumped record amounts of rain across a wide swath of Nova Scotia. -Scotland, causing flash flooding, road washouts and power outages.
On July 21, up to 250 mm of rain fell on the southwest coast of Nova Scotia, parts of Halifax, and the central and western parts of the province. a summer's total in one day. The community of Bedford received 173 mm in six hours, a new national record.
All of eastern Canada was flooded. Flash floods raged across southern Ontario; in Quebec, Sherbrooke received precipitation three times higher than normal in July.
In May, during spring floods in Quebec, two firefighters died during a rescue mission in Charlevoix.
And in July, Torrential rains caused further flooding in Quebec, a rather exceptional phenomenon in the middle of summer. In Rivière-Éternité, in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, a man and a woman were swept away by water in a road slide.
Heat dominated the headlines in 2023, but that old Canadian enemy – the cold – was still very much with us. February was marked by a big freeze: Vancouverites huddled in temperatures of -10°C and southeastern Canada shivered in temperatures up to 20°C lower than normal. /p>
This came after a cold snap in December that destroyed hundreds of hectares of vineyards in British Columbia.
Hydro-Québec teams have a lot of work to do board in the aftermath of a freezing rain storm. A lineman works in the Rosemont district of Montreal.
In early April, freezing rain left 1 million subscribers without power, sometimes for a few days, in southwestern Quebec and eastern Ontario.
David Phillips shakes his head. I never thought I'd see another year like 2021, with its heat domes and atmospheric rivers. But this year was a terrible year.
It's not as if the weather was fundamentally different, recalls the climatologist. No typhoon hit Ottawa, after all: it's the same old Canadian system, but augmented and amplified.
The evidence is clearly mounting: there is growing evidence that human-induced global warming is making extreme weather even more extreme. And it's one extreme after the other.
A quote from David Phillips, climatologist, Environment Canada
As a climatologist, this is fascinating, said Mr. Phillips. But as a Canadian, it's worrying: Modern society can be brutalized by the weather. What we're seeing now is a preview of what we'll see in the future.
Of the 10 weather events listed, British Columbia returns five times. First hit by the cold at the start of the year, the western province was then marked by fires, smoke, drought and unprecedented heat.
Each region has its own vulnerabilities, but what we see is that British Columbia comes back year after year and this shows a certain fragility on this side of the country, indicates Chantal McCartin, specialist in physical sciences at Environment Canada.
The effects of the El Niño meteorological phenomenon, often felt on the west coast, quite guided this meteorological year, she adds. But it is certain that wildfires, heat and flooding will be back on our radar, especially on the West Coast, in 2024.
With information from The Canadian Press