Cold spring breaks records in Nunavik, Nunavut
Average temperature for Kuujjuaq -5.9 C lower than usual in May
(Updated, June 6, 7:30 a.m.)
While Arctic Europe saw heat several degrees above normal recently, below average temperatures in Nunavut and Nunavik mean spring has been slow to come to these regions.
In fact, the arrival of spring has been so slow that many say they have seen geese heading south instead of north.
“Tens of thousands of Snow Geese and Canada Geese flew back down south again today. Something very not right,” said a man from the southern Hudson Bay coast on Facebook on May 25.
From western Nunavut, another man responded that there is “too much snow and not enough water for them.”
“Even here in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, the geese are heading back south,” he said.
On June 3 near Iqaluit, you could finally see some geese sitting on a thawed part of a hillside, resting and drinking water, before taking off.
But the temperatures remained chilly.
June 2’s high temperature of .3 C in Kuujjuaq was the coldest on record for that date. The previous coldest recorded high for June 2 in Kuujjuaq was .6 C in 1959. Temperatures on June 3 still hovered several degrees below normal.
And in May, Iqaluit’s average temperature was -3 C below normal, according to weather watcher Patrick Duplessis from Dalhousie University, who took a look at temperature anomalies across the North.
But in Kuujjuaq, the temperature variation over the past month of -5 C was even larger than in Iqaluit, he found.
Kuujjuaq broke many records with its cool temperatures this past May, reaching a temperature of 10 C only on May 30, 24 days later than between 1981 to 2010 normal. And May 30 was the latest date for this temperature reading since 1991, Duplessis said.
On May 20 the low of -12.5 C in Kuujjuaq set a new record low for the date, breaking the previous record of -10.6 C in 1956.
Other records set in Nunavik, which was even 2 C colder overall in March than in April:
• May 15: Kuujjuaq, the high of -13.4 C beat the old record of -12.8 C set in 1951, and in Inukjuak, the high of -14.7 C beat the old record low of -13.3 C set in 1929.
• May 14: Kuujjuaq, the high of -13.8 C beat the old record low of -12.2 C set in 1948.
• May 5: Iqaluit, the high of -11.3 C beat the old record of -11.0 C set in 1985.
On June 3, the weather was still nippy in Iqaluit, with a high of -1 C, lower than the average high of 3.9 C and much lower than the 1998 record high of 10.7 C.
As for why the cold snap, Duplessis said that it appears there is a block in the atmospheric pattern that constantly brings cold air back to Baffin Island and northern Quebec.
“And it doesn’t seem to be ending soon,” he said. “Those pattern blocks seem to occur more frequently in recent years and often give both strong warm and cold anomalies on each side of the continent, on a monthly scale—as seen in the May anomaly map.”