Yellowknifers will get a bit of a break from the frigid temperatures that have eaten up much of January so far but one meteorologist says it won’t last long.
Anticipated temperatures over the next week will be uncharacteristically warm, however, extreme cold is likely to return by the end of next week, said Terri Lang of Environment and Climate Change Canada.
“It looks like daytime highs will be closer to -11 C or -12 C and that is about 10 degrees above your seasonal average,” said Lang. “That will likely be a welcome respite from the really deep cold you’ve experienced. There is still lots of winter left, though.”
Lang said January temperatures in Yellowknife typically fall between daytime highs of -22 C and overnight lows of around -31 C. However, the average temperature this month has been much colder so far at -29.9 C compared to the 30-year average of -25.6 C.
“You were in a deep freeze very much for a good bulk of January with it being very cold – between overnight lows of -40 C and day times high not even getting above -30 C,” she said.
“Then it moderated somewhat late last week and right now your highs are around -14 C and overnight lows around -27 C. ”
Meteorologists can’t make long-term forecasts with strong predictability, however the cold temperatures will return, she said.
“We can see into the crystal ball future about 10 days or so with any confidence and it does look like you will return to colder air perhaps by the end of next week or so,” she said. “So it looks like that deeper cold (experienced n in January) might return again.”
Lang said January’s temperatures are consistent with the colder and drier weather that has occurred in the Yellowknife all winter long. December was also quite dry and cold when compared to historical trends.
December ended up -4.6 C colder than average and the 21st coldest in 78 years of data, she said. The average temperature for the month was 26.4 C, more than four degrees colder than the 30-year average of -21.8 C, she said.
“Precipitation-wise, it’s been relatively dry,” she added, noting that December saw 63 percent of average expected precipitation – the 15th driest in 78 years of record.
Lang said there was only 10.2 mm of snow in December, The 30-year average is 16.2 mm.
Lang said the sub-Arctic region around Yellowknife seems to have “buck trends” of warming elsewhere in the North, noting the High Arctic has been noticeably warmer this winter.
Forest fire season
With forest fire season just a few months away, the meteorologist said the low precipitation figures “raise a bit of a red flag.”
“The winter precipitation absolutely does set the stage for what is going to happen coming into forest fire season,” she said. “You want to have a good amounts of precipitation and the main form of that is snow. You want lots of snow coming into the spring and you don’t want dry conditions because you then start spring and summer dry, not counting the spring and summer rains that might occur.”
Fact file: Winter 2019/2020 (So far)
Daily average -26.4 C
30 year monthly average – 21.8 C
Total precipitation (snow) 10.2 mm
30 year monthly average 16.2 mm
January (as of 23rd)
Daily average: -29.9 C
30 year monthly average: -25.6 C
Precipitation (snow): 3.6 mm
30 year monthly average: 14. 3 mm