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News > Canada

Extreme Cold Hits Canada Following Record Hot Year

  • Weather in Metro Vancouver, Canada, Jan. 9, 2024.

    Weather in Metro Vancouver, Canada, Jan. 9, 2024. | Photo: X/ @MMadryga

Published 9 January 2024

The homes and financial health of over 1.5 million Canadians are at higher and growing risk.

The first impactful winter storm of the year is expected to hit Ottawa late Tuesday, following a record year of heat, wildfires, and flooding.


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Environment Canada, the country's weather agency, said heavy snow associated with a major winter storm is to arrive on Tuesday afternoon and continue into Wednesday.

Snow will likely change to ice pellets or freezing rain on Tuesday night. Several hours of freezing rain are possible, particularly in the Ottawa Valley. Some locations may see 10 to 20 cm of snow.

Previously, Environment Canada issued a winter storm watch for some parts of Ontario and Quebec, suggesting that as thick as 40 cm of snow may blanket some areas of the provinces starting Tuesday.

Environment Canada also issued extreme cold warnings for parts of Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Saskatchewan, with in some places temperatures expected to feel like a staggering minus 50 degrees Celsius due to the wind chill.

The North American country had pulled through a heap of extreme weather events in 2023, the hottest year on record. The most destructive ones included the Kelowna wildfires in British Columbia, ice storms in Ontario and Quebec, the Tantallon wildfire in Nova Scotia, flooding in Nova Scotia, severe storms in Ontario and Quebec, and the Winnipeg hailstorm in Manitoba.

Global boiling is taking a toll on Canadian's lives. Extreme heat could kill 1,370 people and send 6,000 to hospital each year in British Columbia by 2030 if the province doesn't adapt its essential infrastructure, according to a report by the Canadian Climate Institute published in June 2023.

It is also hitting the nerves of insurers. The unprecedented frequency of catastrophic events experienced across Canada in 2023 pushed the total insured loss for the country to US$2.32 billion, according to a report by Catastrophe Indices and Quantification (CatIQ), the national insured loss and exposure indices provider on Monday.

Canada experienced 23 events that generated insured losses of over 30 million Canadian dollars during the past 12 months, a record number for the country. These included the first-ever catastrophe declared in the territories due to an exceptionally active wildfire season across Canada.

"Last year was one for the record books, not in terms of the overall insured losses, but rather the total number of catastrophes which occurred during the period. In July and August, there were more catastrophes than Canada has previously seen in an entire year," said Laura Twidle, president and CEO of CatIQ.

"The country is experiencing the increase in severe events firsthand, and collaboration across sectors is becoming more important to mitigate the impacts," she added.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said on Monday that 2023, now the fourth-worst year for insured losses in Canada, was a record-breaking year for wildfires, flooding also continued to cause destruction in nearly every region across Canada.

After surveying insurers, the IBC sees no change in the availability or affordability of wildfire insurance coverage across the country. However, as a result of escalating losses and revised risk modeling, Canada is viewed now as a riskier place to insure.

Numerous Canadians cannot access flood insurance. It is also becoming harder for some households to obtain insurance for earthquakes and related hazards. The homes and financial health of over 1.5 million Canadians are at higher and growing risk.

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