N.W.T. temperatures soar above zero, breaking a record and causing some problems

"It's not normal," said Chuck Gruben in Tuktoyaktuk, where rain fell and temperatures hit zero on Thursday.

The mercury hit 11.1 C in Norman Wells, breaking a record for December

The Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway in 2017. Unseasonably warm conditions in the region are causing problems for people, and possibly wildlife. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

Unseasonably warm temperatures so far this month are causing Northwest Territories residents some problems.

In Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., Chuck Gruben's truck wasn't having it.

"I started to back out of the driveway and I started going sideways," he told Wanda McLeod on CBC's Northwind.

The thermostat hit zero degrees in the hamlet on Thursday, balmy for this time of year, when the average high is around -20 C. 

But Tuktoyaktuk's temperatures were frigid compared with other communities in the territory.

Norman Wells hit a tropical 11.1 C — smashing its previous record-high for December of 5.7 C, set in 1985. 

Wrigley also hit 11 degrees Thursday, while Fort Simpson, Sambaa K'e and the South Slave region all saw temperatures above zero. 

"It's not normal," said Gruben, commenting on the heavy rain he was seeing in Tuktoyaktuk. 

The highs for Yukon and N.W.T. communities on Thursday. (Bradlyn Oakes/CBC)

He said conditions were slippery and many people stayed home.

"Even to get down your steps, it's pretty scary," he said. "My wife, she went out to her work truck this morning. She had to sit on the steps and go down each step on her bum." 

The unusually warm weather may be even harder on the animals.

"For any animals or birds that forage out there, it's going to be hard to dig for food once it freezes," said Gruben.

While temperatures in Tuktoyaktuk are forecasted to descend into the minus-teens and twenties over the weekend, these recent days of rain and warmth might not be forgotten by the caribou. 

"These are the kind of winters that we dread for the caribou," said Gruben, especially considering how animal numbers are declining. 

"This just contributes to make it worse for them," he said. "Going to see a lot of skinny caribou." 

Written by Sidney Cohen based on an interview with Wanda McLeod


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?