Environment Canada’s senior climatologist David Phillips dubbed 2018 “the year that summer was cancelled” for Inuvik after a snowy Labour Day long weekend.
“It’s hard to describe something more miserable than what you’ve gone through,” said Phillips. “It certainly wasn’t summer, it wasn’t fall, it was something in between.”
Labour Day weekend in Inuvik saw approximately 30 hours of snow and 41 hours of rain, and temperatures that were five to seven degrees colder than normal.
“Why have a three-day weekend when the weather is like this? You’d rather go to work! It was just sheer misery,” said Phillips. “The rest of Canada was complaining about it being too hot. Southern Canada had too much summer and Inuvik didn’t have any.”
August 2018 was the second-coldest August on record. Inuvik saw 22 days of rain in August – twice as many as Inuvik usually gets in August – and temperatures that were three-and-a-half to four degrees colder than normal.
“This is really an anomaly,” said Phillips. “The only thing that makes you feel better is that you’re breaking records with this kind of weather.”
Phillips said the weather in Inuvik has been miserable since late July, with lots of fog and strong winds in addition to the cold and precipitation. June and July were also wetter than normal.
“It wasn’t just Labour Day weekend. It’s hard to imagine weather more miserable. From the last week of July throughout all of August, you didn’t get one break with the weather,” he said. “Misery began around the 26th or 27th of July, and it has been absolutely weather-miserable since. You’re starting winter without even having a summer or fall.”
The cold weather was caused by a low-pressure area that was streaming air from the North Pole into the Northern regions of the Northwest Territories.
“You were getting no southerly or westerly air, only northerly air,” said Phillips. “You don’t get a lot of comfortable, wonderful days to begin with, and when you lose them like this … I’m sure people are depressed by it.”
Phillips said it doesn’t look like we’ll have any summer-like temperatures until next year.
“I look into the future and don’t see much improvement, sadly. If the Farmer’s Almanac is right, the winter will be brutal,” he said. “But we probably won’t see that happen because of El Nino, which is a warm pool of water in the Pacific. When it occurs, in northern and western Canada, we have a milder than normal winter.”
Phillips said although there will be no more warm days for Inuvik, El Nino will allow for more southern winds to carry relatively warmer temperatures to Inuvik this winter.
“My sense is that it may not be as brutal as last year because El Nino will bring warmer southern winds up to northern regions,” said Phillips. “I wouldn’t bet a lot of money on a forecast, but I certainly don’t believe that the Farmer’s Almanac is going to be right.”