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Blizzard closes Ulukhaktok airport for seven hours

Blizzard conditions arrived in Iqaluit Halloween morning and Channing McRae's walk through 80-km/hour gusts demonstrates why all festivities are postponed and city services are suspended. Casey Lessard/NNSL photo

Heavy snowfall across the Beaufort Sea Oct. 28 and 29 closed Ulukhaktok Airport for seven hours.

The storm system triggered three blizzard warnings, with Ulukhaktok, Paulatuk and Sachs Harbour taking the brunt of the snowfall.

Environment Canada issued the warnings shortly after 4 p.m. Oct. 28, forecasting winds of at least 100 kilometres per hour for all three communities. Ulukhaktok Municipal Services requested residents rationed water and cautioned that "All municipal services are now off the roads due to poor visibility and high winds."

The storm was expected to die down by the morning of Oct. 29, but come 9 a.m. the Department of Infrastructure announced the Ulukhaktok airport would be closed until further notice. It was re-opened just before 4 p.m.

Municipal services did not get started until 1 p.m. Aurora College stayed closed for the morning but was open in the afternoon as the blizzard died down. Mangilaluk, Angik and Inualthuyak schools in Tuktoyaktuk, Paulatuk and Sachs Harbour were closed for the afternoon of Oct. 28, and Angik stayed closed for Oct. 29, while Inualthuyak opened at 12:30 p.m. Helen Kalvak School was also closed Tuesday.

Winds are still strong in the northern Amundsen Gulf, averaging 40 km/h. Temperatures are now expected to drop quickly, falling to a high of -17C with the windchill by Halloween in Ulukhaktok, -15C in Sachs Harbour, both with the threat of -29C windchill overnight and risk of frostbite.

At the other extreme, temperatures in Paulatuk, Tuktoyaktuk and Inuvik jumped above freezing Oct. 29, though the forecast calls for temperatures to dip below zero by the weekend.


About the Author: Eric Bowling

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