A Record-Breaking Year on the Prairies: 2023 Weather Overview

Date Posted
Colourful timeline of the different seasons in Saskatchwan

With several longstanding climate records shattered in 2023, Saskatchewan’s weather was right at home in a year full of impactful events. This year, SRC's Climate Reference Station (CRS) located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, logged record amounts of bright sunshine, record daily high temperatures and below average precipitation making 2023 the fifth driest year on record.

The information used here is from SRC’s monthly weather summaries, which are developed with data recorded at our CRSs, located in northeast Saskatoon and at the Conservation Learning Centre (CLC) near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and are managed by SRC’s climatologist Virginia Wittrock. 
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January

In a welcome start to 2023, our CRS in Saskatoon and at the CLC both recorded warmer-than-average temperatures for January.

Much like January 2022, no new weather records were set. However, both Climate Reference Stations did experience unusual weather — both locations recorded snowfall that was below average for January. In total, each location recorded half the normal amount of precipitation for the month.

February

Winter was still hanging on for the month of hearts and flowers, but according to our Climate Reference Stations, temperatures were rising — at least on average.

The average daily high, daily low and daily mean were at least 1.9 Celsius (C) warmer than the normal in the northern part of Saskatchewan’s agricultural zone, according to our CRS at the CLC.

Further south, our CRS in Saskatoon also recorded temperatures that were warmer than usual but to less of an extreme. 

Saskatoon reached 0.2 C on February 6, which came with the added bonus of freezing rain — creating slick conditions in the Bridge City.

March

March roared in like a lion, but certainly didn’t go out like a lamb.

Both of SRC’s Climate Reference Stations recorded temperatures much colder than average throughout March.Our CRS near Prince Albert recorded temperatures above 0 C on only four days throughout the month. Meanwhile, our CRS located in Saskatoon recorded five days above freezing.

Normally, Prince Albert records about 14 days with highs above 0 C, while Saskatoon usually records about 15 days. Both locations experienced below-average snowfalls during March but closed out the month with a lot of snow still on the ground. Our CRS at the CLC finished March with more snow on the ground than the month started with.

April

It was a chilly start to April!

Temperatures dipped into the negative double digits for the first week before rising back to average by the end of the month. SRC's CRS at the CLC recorded temperatures well below average, with the lowest temperatures dropping to -22.8 C on April 5. April was also drier than usual, with the CRS in Saskatoon recording only six days with measurable rain or snowfall — making April the fourth consecutive month with precipitation well below the monthly average.

May

May was a hot one, with record-breaking temperatures seen across Saskatchewan. SRC’s CRS in Saskatoon recorded seven new records, including a new maximum daily temperature of 31.7 C on May 16. Quite the change from early April!

Both of our stations recorded 21 days (from April 26-May 16) of no measurable precipitation. Despite the dry spell, May’s precipitation was near average thanks to a thunderstorm on May 24 that brought 24.9 mm to the Saskatoon area.

June

Not to be outdone by May, June also shaped up to be another warm and dry month here in Saskatchewan. Our CRS in Saskatoon and at the CLC recorded 20 days of temperatures above 25 C — making this the hottest June since 1988.Both Climate Reference Stations saw less precipitation than average, with the Saskatoon location seeing the fewest number of days with precipitation on record.

July

July marked the seventh consecutive month where our CRS in Saskatoon recorded drought-like conditions. Saskatoon saw less than half of the normal precipitation for July. The Prince Albert region was not immune to the dry conditions either; however, more rainfall was recorded there than in Saskatoon. Our CRS at the CLC recorded slightly more than half of the average monthly precipitation for the month.

Despite the lack of rain, temperatures were pretty average — both Climate Reference Stations recorded temperatures close to the mean.

August

Contrary to the preceding months, August was wetter than usual, with both Climate Reference Stations recording above-average precipitation. However, wildfire smoke blanketed the air in both locations for much of the month.

Despite the rain and wildfire smoke, summer 2023 was the thirteenth sunniest on since 1963 (according to data from our CRS in Saskatoon).

September

September was a warm, dry and sunny month in Saskatchewan. Both of our stations logged over 250 hours of bright sunshine. On the other hand, precipitation was well below average, with only 3.5 mm of rain recorded by the CRS at the CLC. The Saskatoon CRS saw wetter conditions, logging 17.5 mm. 

October

October started warm and wet, with rainfall recorded at both stations. The CRS in Saskatoon recorded warm temperatures (up to 22.2 C) in early October. However, temperatures plummeted later in the month, followed by the season's first snowfall. By Halloween, Saskatoon recorded 2 cm of snow on the ground.

November

Autumn 2023 (September, October and November) is now the warmest on record, reaching an average of
6.9 C in Saskatoon. November was unusually dry and warm, with record-breaking daily temperatures observed at our CRS in Saskatoon. Temperatures hit 12.2 C and 11.6 C on November 18 and 19, respectively.

The average maximum temperature for November was around 0 C in Saskatoon and around -2 C at the CLC.

December

To cap off an already exceptionally dry year, December 2023 was the tenth driest on record, according to our CRS in Saskatoon. However, the month was anything but gloomy. Our CRS in Saskatoon broke several records for the most hours of bright sunshine in December. 

Both Climate Reference Stations recorded temperatures much warmer than we have grown to expect in Saskatchewan, with each location stretching well above the average monthly temperature.
About SRC’s Climate Reference Stations

SRC's CRS in Saskatoon is a principal climate reference station and is the only station of its kind in the city and one of only three like it in Saskatchewan. The station provides data to governments, universities, insurance agencies, agriculture sector clients and a wide variety of other industries. It is also a valuable research tool for evaluating long-term climate trends. SRC’s Saskatoon CRS celebrated its 60th anniversary of collecting weather data in 2023.

SRC’s CRS located at the Conservation Learning Centre celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2022 and now provides historical weather data!