Looking Back at the Top 10 Weather Events of 2023

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2 Jan 2024 3:00 AM

2023 has proven to be a rollercoaster of weather events, showcasing powerful storms and unforgettable events. From extreme heat and wildfires to hurricanes and tornadoes, WeatherNation looks back at the most impactful weather events of 2023 to hit the U.S.. Check back as we get closer to Christmas and the New Year to watch the stories in full on air and online!

10. Tennessee Tornadoes

On December 9th tornadoes tore through middle Tennessee, causing the deadliest December outbreak in the region's history. Nearly 2 years to the day from the last tornado in Davidson county, yet another EF-2 hit Nashville's suburbs. A deadly EF-3 also cut a path 42 miles long from Clarksville, TN to Bowling Green, KY. It was all part of a larger storm system that stretches from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast spawning tornadoes in Mississippi, Alabama and North Carolina.

9. Canadian Wildfire Smoke

The 2023 Canadian wildfire season was unlike any in the nation’s history. In all, more than 6,600 fires burned a collective area the size of North Dakota... And sent extreme amounts of smoke pouring into the U.S.. In spring, fires in western Canada caused air quality alerts from Washington to Wisconsin. For the summer, fires in eastern Canada turned skies in the northeastern U.S. apocalyptic orange. New York and Philadelphia topped the list for the worst air quality in the world. 

8. Texas Ice Storm

With the memories of ice storms 2021 and 2022 still fresh in the minds of Texans, a polar blast set the stage for yet another impactful ice storm into early February. Particularly hard hit was the Texas hill country near Austin... Where nearly an inch of ice stacked up. Hundreds of accidents on roads led to 10 fatalities. Accumulation on trees and powerlines cut off power to more than 500,000 customers during the storm from Arkansas and northwestern Mississippi. 

7. Rolling Fork/Amory

On March 24th 2023, a powerful EF-4 tornado tore through Rolling Fork, a small agricultural town in the Mississippi delta.  17 Mississippians lost their lives and hundreds more were injured; the deadliest tornado in Mississippi since April 27, 2011. 

6. Double High Risk Day (March 31)

On March 31st, 2023 the storm prediction center issued a rare double high risk for the likelihood of widespread, devastating severe weather. In all, more than 150 tornadoes touched down across 11 states, causing dozens of injuries and multiple fatalities. Near Little Rock, Arkansas, Wynne high school was destroyed by an EF-3 tornado. Thankfully, school had been let out early and no one was in the building. 

5. Hurricane Hilary

In August, hurricane Hilary made history as only the third system to make landfall in the golden state as an intact tropical cyclone. More than 13 inches fell on the highest peak in southern California, Mt. San Gorgonio. Historic flooding of the whitewater river in the Coachella Valley derailed a train, destroyed bridges, and shut down several highways... Including I-10.

4. Southwest Heat

Summer of 2023 wasn’t just hot. It was four relentless months of record-breaking global warmth. Maricopa County, Arizona saw more than 500 heat related deaths. Phoenix, saw a record 31 consecutive days of scorching 110 degrees heat or higher. 

3. Hurricane Idalia

Hurricane Idalia slammed Florida's nature coast in late August 2023.  Though Idalia topped out as a CAT4, it made landfall in the town of Keaton Beach, FL as a CAT3... Packing winds up to 125 miles per hour. Idalia swamped St. Petersburg with more than three feet of water. Estimates of storm surge in Horseshoe Beach range from 6 to 10 feet. In total, 5 deaths were associated with hurricane Idalia and the storm has been classified as a billion dollar weather event. 

2. Atmospheric Rivers Hit California

California is no stranger to atmospheric rivers, but what made the 2023 season significant was their relentless, unprecedented frequency. In all, twelve separate AR events struck the west coast before Spring. The highest peaks of the Sierra received more than 60 feet of seasonal snowfall. People were buried in their homes and I-80 was impassable. 

By March, temperatures started to warm, and rain combined with melting snow flooded towns like Kernville. Atmospheric rivers caused $4.6 billion dollars in damage across west coast in 2023. The copious amounts rain and snow allowed California to be drought-free for the first time in four years.   

1. Hawaiian Wildfires

On August 8, 2023, the historic town of Lahaina, Hawaii watched life as they knew it go up in flames. Category 4 hurricane Dora enhanced a tight pressure gradient... Adding to strong, dry, downsloping winds on the drought stricken island of Maui and quickly spreading the deadliest fire the U.S. has seen in over a century. Nearly 100 lives were lost and 2000 homes and business were destroyed in a matter of hours.  It is our most memorable weather event of 2023.

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