Western Nunavut community enjoys early summer heat wave
“The waterfront’s been a happening place”
If you’ve been trying to reach friends or family in Kugluktuk this week, try the beach.
That community has been the hot spot in Nunavut, where the mercury reached a scorching 29.2 degrees Celsius July 5. The temperature went up as high as 27 C July 6.
Those temperatures are well above seasonal; the average July temperature in western Nunavut hovers somewhere between 6 C and 15 C.
According to Environment Canada, the July 5 temperature broke a new record — Kugluktuk last saw that kind of heat in the summer of 1994, when temperatures hit 28 C in the Kitikmeot community of 1,450 (although some residents will tell you it went as high as 40 C.)
To beat the heat, Kugluktuk residents young and old have been flocking to the beach to cool off in the Arctic Ocean, hopping in their boats and taking refuge from the mosquitos and dust kicking up on the community’s roadways.
“It’s been packed,” said Bill Williams, a newcomer to Kugluktuk who works as the economic development officer for the hamlet. “The waterfront’s been a happening place.”
Fortunately for Kugluktuk, it’s one of the only communities in Nunavut that employs a lifeguard on its waterfront, who works weekday afternoons and weekends through the summer months.
The position is funded in part through a Government of Nunavut sports and recreation grant and a local mining impact and benefit agreement.
Other Kugluktuk residents have been eyeing the handful of air conditioning units on sale at the local co-op store. The store sold its first unit of the year this week.
“We sell a couple every year,” the store manager told Nunatsiaq News. “Everyone’s in looking at them… but the high cost of power in Nunavut can be an issue.”
The heat wave in Kugluktuk is due to a “blocking pattern” in the atmosphere, explained Environment Canada meteorologist Brian Proctor.
The flow over regions like the Yukon, Northwest Territories and western Nunavut has become stagnant in recent days with the flow split off the coast of British Columnia, Proctor said, allowing warm air to track northwards.
The extended daylight hours also allow the air mass to warm and persist over an extended period, he said.
“The forecast is in for a general cool down over the next week but remaining above normal,” Proctor said, noting Kugluktuk temperatures will stay in the low 20 degrees Celsuis in the coming days.
And watch out Kivalliq: that dome of warm air will shift eastward over the next few days, bringing warm temperatures to that region next.
The Baffin region has also enjoyed above seasonal temperatures this week, with temperatures hitting the mid-20s in Iqaluit, although Environment Canada forecasts those temperatures to drop to the low teens by the weekend.
— Micah C (@MicahC63) July 6, 2016