2023 Severe Weather Overview

Extreme Weather Events of 2023 | RainViewer Blog

Having stepped into the year 2024, let’s recap the extraordinary weather events that defined 2023. From record-breaking storms to unprecedented natural disasters, 2023 unfolded with a series of remarkable meteorological occurrences.

The Deadliest and Costliest Tropical Cyclone: Daniel, September

Flooding in Greece after Storm Daniel Source: Fotis A., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Daniel belongs to record-breaking storms 2023: it was the deadliest and costliest tropical cyclone ever recorded.

The tropical storm started as a low-pressure system and then became a tropical cyclone named Daniel. It moved toward Libya and had caused a lot of damage and deaths there before it weakened. The storm happened because of an unusual weather pattern called an omega block. This block refers to a high-pressure area between two low-pressure areas, with isobars looking like the letter omega (Ω).

The cyclone brought a lot of problems to Greece, where the floods cost more than two billion euros. Libya suffered the most, when two dams broke near the city of Derna and caused a huge flood. More than 4,000 people died, and many more were missing, but the exact numbers were not clear.

In total, fatalities and damage from Daniel are as follows:

Greece17$2.14 billion
Libya4,333+$19 billion

Source: Wikipedia

The Most Remarkable Snowstorm: California, February

Ski resort during a snow storm in California, March 2023 Source: AccuWeather

Does it ever snow in California? Though the state is known mostly for wildfires, its weather can surprise from the opposite side as well.

A big winter storm came to California on March 17, and brought a lot of snow and wind, having become one of the weather anomalies in 2023. It was part of a bigger storm that hit many parts of the West Coast, like Oregon, Washington, and Nevada. The Sierra Nevada mountains got the most snow, with some places getting several feet.

The snow storm in California killed at least two people by March 22. The California government said that 34 out of 58 counties were in a state of emergency. Some people had to leave their homes and go to higher places because they were afraid of floods. There was a warning for flash floods in many parts of central California.

The storm also messed up the transportation in the state. Many planes were stopped or late, and many roads were closed and hard to drive on.

The Deadliest Wildfire: Maui, August

Lahaina ruins after the Maui Wildfires 2023 Source: Rick Bowmer/AP, NBC News

Devastating wildfires in Maui, Hawaii also belong to top weather disasters 2023. Having swept through Hawaii in August, the fires claimed at least 100 lives and destroyed vast stretches of land. The Maui wildfires, fueled by a combination of dry conditions and high winds, prompted large-scale evacuations, impacted air quality, and renewed discussions on wildfire prevention strategies.

The historical town of Lahaina suffered the most: over 2,200 buildings burned down and the cost of the damage was estimated at $6 million.

The Most Fatal Flooding Event: North India, July

The Most Fatal Flooding Event: North India, July Source: NASA satellites

The monsoon season 2023 brought severe weather with heavy rainfall, which caused floods and landslides in Northern India. The disaster affected 8 states and territories.

The rain was very heavy because of a monsoon surge and a western disturbance, which made some places get the most rain in decades. The rivers became too full and flooded the land, and the landslides damaged cars, bridges, roads, and power lines.

In July, more than 100 people died in Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi, because of the rain and floods. Thousands more had to leave their homes and go to relief camps. The floods also made schools close, and flights and trains stopped in many parts of North India.

The rain did not stop in August, and more people died in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

The Greatest Tornado Outbreak: Arkansas-Iowa-Delaware, March-April

The Greatest Tornado Outbreak: Arkansas-Iowa-Delaware, March-April Source: Berit Björk, Encyclopedia of Arkansas

A powerful tornado outbreak hit nine states in the country on March 31, from Arkansas and Iowa to Delaware in the east. The extreme weather 2023 storms took the lives of more than thirty people in seven states, with five of them in Arkansas.

One tornado (rated EF3 out of 5, with winds reaching 165 mph or 265 km/h) went through Little Rock, North Little Rock, Sherwood, and Jacksonville in Pulaski County. Another one, also rated EF3, hit Wynne in Cross County in eastern Arkansas. This outbreak happened a week after another storm system killed twenty-one people in Mississippi and one in Alabama.

The Earthquake with Most Deaths: Turkey-Syria, February

Damaged building in Turkey after earthquakes of 2023 Source: Adem, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A massive earthquake hit Turkey and Syria on February 6, 2023, with a magnitude of 7.8. The center of the quake was 23 mi (37 km) from Gaziantep. Another big earthquake (7.7) happened later that day. It was 59 mi (95 km) from the first one. Both earthquakes were:

  • the most fatal in modern Turkey since the 526 Antioch earthquake;
  • the deadliest in modern Syria since the quake that happened in Aleppo in 1822;
  • the deadliest worldwide since the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

These severe weather events of 2023 damaged a huge area, about the size of Germany. Around 14 million people were affected. The quakes killed 59,259 people: 50,783 in Turkey and 8,476 in Syria.


In retrospect, the 2023 weather stands as a testament to the unpredictable and, at times, devastating nature of our planet’s weather systems. From the unprecedented fury of Tropical Cyclone Daniel to the raging wildfires in Maui, the year unfolded with a series of weather-related disasters. 2023 events show us that we need to join forces and find ways to live better and adapt to our planet’s changing and sometimes harsh climate.

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