Destructive overnight weather bomb batters Nunavut’s capital

"Roofing crashed into my place. Blew in my son's window while he was in it"

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

A woman posts a photo of a dark room lit and heated by a qulliq oil lamp during a power blackout that occurred during the Oct. 4 to Oct. 5 wind storm in Iqaluit. (PHOTO BY MAGGIE @PURPLESAXIFRAGE/TWITTER)


A woman posts a photo of a dark room lit and heated by a qulliq oil lamp during a power blackout that occurred during the Oct. 4 to Oct. 5 wind storm in Iqaluit. (PHOTO BY MAGGIE @PURPLESAXIFRAGE/TWITTER)

Wind damage: a photo posted on Facebook shortly after 11 p.m. Oct. 4 shows a piece of metal torn from the roof of Iqaluit House, a low-rise apartment building in downtown Iqaluit across from the post office. An hour later a much larger piece of the roof lay in the street. (PHOTO BY LESLIE EVALOAKJUK/FACEBOOK)


Wind damage: a photo posted on Facebook shortly after 11 p.m. Oct. 4 shows a piece of metal torn from the roof of Iqaluit House, a low-rise apartment building in downtown Iqaluit across from the post office. An hour later a much larger piece of the roof lay in the street. (PHOTO BY LESLIE EVALOAKJUK/FACEBOOK)

Last night, what meteorologists call a “weather bomb” hit Iqaluit, along with other south Baffin communities, as extreme winds, reaching 114 kilometres per hour by 1 a.m. Friday morning, knocked out power and ripped metal roofs from buildings.

At about midnight, a woman, posting on social media, said it looked as if the entire roof had been torn from the Iqaluit House apartment and office building in the heart of downtown, just east of the Four Corners, making the Queen Elizabeth Way thoroughfare impassable.

As of 6 a.m., Environment Canada recorded winds of 124 km/hr in Iqaluit, 111 km/hr in Sanikiluaq, 98 km/hr in Kimmirut, 98 km/hr in Pangnirtung and 85 km/hr in Cape Dorset.

As of 7 a.m., the City of Iqaluit said water delivery and garbage pickup was suspended until further notice and that city facilities were closed.

And the Government of Nunavut said on Facebook that its Iqaluit offices and various other workplaces would also close, including all schools.

As of 8:30 a.m., the Qulliq Energy Corp. said the Road to Nowhere and Lego Land areas were without power due to a downed utility pole near Joamie Elementary School.

What one man called “roller coaster” power outages were also recurrent in Iqaluit throughout the night of Oct. 4 as the QEC said it was dealing with power outages resulting from “flying debris and line slap due to high winds.”

As the night went on, conditions worsened.

Many Iqalungmiut, who hunkered down inside their shaking homes, went on their smart phones to send messages about the scary impacts of the wind, while others cracked jokes. “Wind is the new snow,” wrote one.

At the same time, Environment Canada urged people to use a special storm hashtag on Twitter, #NUstorm, to help provide more information about conditions in region.

Environment Canada had issued a wind warning that damage to buildings, “such as to roof shingles and windows, may occur,” and that’s exactly what happened to Iqaluit House.

A woman on the Road to Nowhere also said she had to rush out and grab some metal sheets that had blown off someone’s roof to prevent them from blowing around the neighbourhood.

Environment Canada had forecast the “prolonged destructive winds” would continue over south Baffin Island overnight, with winds of up to 140 km/hr expected in Iqaluit and Pangnirtung, and snow and blizzard-like conditions in Kimmirut and Cape Dorset.

Due to the wind, one Iqaluit resident said she didn’t plan to sleep, while another said she would sleep in her living room overnight.

As a result of the weather, Iqaluit schools closed early Thursday and remained closed Friday. On Thursday evening, the Storehouse Bar closed at 9 p.m., the Legion’s Thanksgiving Karaoke contest was cancelled, and the city said the aquatic centre remained closed until further notice.

The high winds were forecast to persist through Friday morning, although at about 10:30 a.m. Environment Canada lifted its wind warning for the city.

The City of Iqaluit advised residents that the city was suspending services, such as water delivery, waste management and garbage until further notice, due to severe weather conditions.

Conditions weren’t much better in Nunavik, either, where Johnny Kasudluak of Inukjuak, on the Hudson Bay coast, said late Thursday evening on Twitter that “our home is continuously shaking.”

“Earlier I saw Bell Canada and Co-op Cable lines disconnected from one pole. Good thing they weren’t power lines,” he said.

compiled by Jane George

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