2023 was a year of weather extremes, with damaging floods, fires, and storms unfolding across the globe.

The United States logged a historic number of billion-dollar weather disasters, while smoke from Canada’s wildfires choked parts of the country.

“It’s kind of odd to be talking about our neighbor just to the north, but they really did have such a big impact in North America and also globally,” says Nathan Santo Domingo, a field meteorologist with Washington State University’s AgWeatherNet.

Nathan Santo Domingo
Courtesy Nathan Santo Domingo

Besides the highest ever reported number of acres burned, the Canadian wildfire season was unusual for its longevity. “Wildfire season got going in late spring and didn’t relent until early fall.”

The Pacific Northwest, in contrast, had its second highest number of recorded fire starts, but a smaller than average number of acres burned.

Santo Domingo discusses the conditions behind 2023’s extreme weather and how some of those events are affecting food prices with Washington State Magazine science writer Becky Kramer. He also talks about the Northwest’s forecast for 2024.





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