Heatwave shatters records in Yukon and Northwest Territories

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A northern heat wave shatters records in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

Temperatures hovered around 30C in large parts of the northern territories on Tuesday, including regions around the Arctic Circle, prompting Environment Canada to issue several heat warnings.

The heatwave started on the Canada Day long weekend and is expected to last all week.

Several temperature records were broken on Monday, including in areas well above the Arctic Circle like Inuvik, in the Northwest Territories. There, temperatures reached 31.8 C, breaking a record of 29.5 degrees set in 1998. More than 3,600 km south in Vancouver, temperatures were minus 10 degrees cooler.

Summer in many northern areas also means 24-hour sunshine. While temperatures are expected to drop to around 10-20 degrees in the last few hours, towns like Inuvik won’t see a sunset until two weeks, when the sun dips below the horizon for about an hour early July 20.

In total, temperature records have been set in at least three regions of the Northwest Territories (Inuvik, Paulatuk and Tuktoyaktuk) and six in the Yukon (Burwash Landing, Carmacks, Faro, Haines Junction, Kluane Lake and Teslin). Carmacks, located between Whitehorse and Dawson City, also saw temperatures of 31.8°C on Monday; nearly three degrees higher than a record set in 2021.

In the Yukon, heat and lightning have sparked at least 20 fires a day since the start of the Canada Day long weekend. There were 104 active fires in the Yukon on Tuesday, officials said, up from 36 on the same date last year.

« Yukon is currently experiencing unprecedented levels of lightning-caused wildfire activity, » Mike Fancie of Yukon Wildland Fire Management told The Canadian Press.

Meanwhile, the Yukon is struggling with flooding and evacuations in some areas. The wildfires prompted Environment Canada to issue air quality statements in Yukon and the Northwest Territories, where fires are also being fought.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, Environment Canada heat warnings were still in effect for more than a dozen areas of the Yukon and Northwest Territories, including Whitehorse, Dawson, Inuvik and Fort Simpson.

According to Environment Canada, « Heat warnings are issued when conditions of very high temperature or humidity are likely to pose a high risk of heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion. »


With files from The Canadian Press

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