Record-breaking temperatures hit southern N.W.T.

Temperatures reached 30 C in Hay River, N.W.T., Wednesday. With a predicted El Niño, warm temperatures are expected to stick around into summer. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Temperatures in the southwest of territory are between eight and 20 degrees above normal

As the last of the risk of flooding flows away, Hay River residents may have another issue to deal with — record-breaking temperatures.

This is Hay River’s warmest May 3 on record.

Temperatures in the community reached 30 C, three degrees warmer than the previous record high for the day.

Overall, the southwestern N.W.T. is experiencing an abnormally warm spring.

“We’re talking, eight to up to 20 degrees above normal,” said Jesse Wagar, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

A low pressure system will lower temperatures on Thursday, but Wagar expects them to “rebound” and stay in the high teens and low 20s for the next week or so.

“This strong upper flow pattern that’s bringing in these warm temperatures … it’s been pretty stagnant and it’s gonna take a lot to push this thing out of the way,” she said.

This map shows the temperature anomaly over the past 10 days (from April 23 to May 2). It shows above normal temperatures stretched across southwestern N.W.T. and most of Nunavut. Northwestern N.W.T. has been cooler than average during the same time. (Submitted by Environment and Climate Change Canada)
This map is the forecasted temperature anomaly from May 3 through to May 10. It indicates that most of the N.W.T. and Nunavut will continue to experience above average temperatures for the next week. (Submitted by Environment and Climate Change Canada)

Beyond that, Wagar says this is an El Niño year, meaning a warmer-than-normal summer.

The previous record-high in Hay River was registered in 2016.

Effects on possible flooding 

The warm temperatures are softening river ice as spring break-up proceeds, according to the latest N.W.T. government’s water monitoring bulletin.

While it says the Liard and Mackenzie Rivers are rising under the ice near Fort Simpson, the water level increases are small.

“Satellite imagery indicates that the snowpack has melted in almost all the lower Liard River basin and that snowmelt runoff delivery has likely ceased,” reads the Wednesday bulletin.

It also says there are patches of open water between Jean Marie River and Fort Simpson.

Concerns will soon turn toward the risk of wildfires.

The territorial government will hold a briefing on wildfires for the press on Thursday afternoon.

CBC News

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