‘On the plus side’: Some communities in Canada’s Northwest Territories enjoy above-freezing weather

Communities throughout the N.W.T. experienced unseasonably warm weather on Tuesday, January 25, 2022 as the jet stream sat further north than usual, holding warm air across western Canada. In Yellowknife, where temperatures hovered in the minus-teens, skiiers took advantage of good conditions on the trails. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

The Northwest Territories got a taste of warmer weather on Tuesday, with temperatures climbing above zero for the first time in months in some communities.

JoAnne Deneron manages the general store in Fort Liard, where temperatures reached a high of six degrees. Despite a bit of rain, she says the weather had people in a celebratory mood.

“It’s a beautiful day,” she said. “There’s water dripping and the south wind is blowing — it’s so nice. Lots of people have been coming in to buy hotdog buns and hamburger buns. They all say ‘We’re going to make a fire outside and have a cookout.'”

Bryan Strong, a teacher in Nahanni Butte, was also enjoying the above-freezing temperatures.

“It’s quite lovely, great to go for a walk in,” he said. “Beats the -50 we had in December.”

Joanne Deneron says with the above zero temperatures people were coming into the General Store in Fort Liard, looking for hotdog and hamburger buns. “They all say ‘We’re going to make a fire outside and have a cookout.'” (Anna Desmarais/CBC North )

Hendy Vital says he has seen this kind of weather in Nahanni Butte in January before, but that was “a long time ago.” He says the changing temperature has had a dramatic effect on the winter landscape.

“Water is just dripping off the roof, and there is no snow on the trees,” he said.

Some areas stay in the minus-teens

Not every community was quite so warm: In Yellowknife, the weather remained in the minus-teens. But after weeks of temperatures in the -20s, 30s and 40s, people still took the opportunity to get outdoors.

“I just came in from an excellent ski [and] I could hold my head up in this balmy minus 16!” said Yellowknife resident John Stephenson. “No hunkering and checking for frostbite on my face. Sun shining and only a light north wind.”

The unseasonable weather is caused by the jet stream sitting further north than usual, holding warm air across Western Canada, including in the Northwest Territories.

But it won’t last long — temperatures are projected to dip back down by the end of the week.

Still, the bitter cold of early January may not be back for a while.

“At least it’s not -40 anymore,” said Deneron. “So that’s on the plus side.”

-With files from Shannon Scott and Lawrence Nayally

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Nunavut, Canada breaks 47 daily temperature records in 1st 6 days of October, CBC News

Greenland: Rise in sea level from ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica match worst-case scenario: study, CBC News

Finland: Temperatures headed toward -40C in Finnish Lapland, Yle News

RussiaWhat is happening with Arctic weather? Moscow wants to know, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: January temperatures about 10°C above normal in parts of northern Sweden, says weather service, Radio Sweden

Julia Peterson, CBC News

Julia Peterson is a CBC journalist with a passion for arts journalism, science reporting, and social justice movements. Story ideas? Email julia.peterson@cbc.ca.

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