Pangnirtung, Nunavut, hits 10 C, smashes April heat record

Pangnirtung, Nunavut melted a 90-year-old heat record Tuesday as temperatures climbed to 10 C, according to Environment Canada.

Previous record for April 26 was 6.7 degrees, set in 1926

Summer-like temperatures in Pangnirtung, Nunavut melted snow, creating water onto of the sea ice. (Submitted by Daniel Kuluguqtuq )

Pangnirtung, Nunavut melted a 90-year-old heat record Tuesday as temperatures climbed to 10 C, according to Environment Canada.

The community is located almost 300 kilometres northeast of Iqaluit on Baffin Island, just south of the Arctic Circle. It is known as the 'Switzerland of the Arctic' for its steep mountains and fiords.

Pangnirtung's previous heat record for April 26 was set in 1926 with a high of 6.7 C, said Dave Phillips, Environment Canada's senior climatologist. Seasonal temperatures are usually closer to —7 C.

"I mean, these would be warm days even for the dog days of summer," said Phillips.

Environment Canada measures temperatures in the shade, says Phillips, so Pangnirtung residents can add a couple of degrees for the "feels like" temperature.

Temperatures in Pangnirtung matched those in Ottawa Tuesday, but soared past downtown Toronto, where temperatures only reached 5 C by mid-afternoon.

Phillips says a "very intense system" over northern Quebec and Labrador is the cause for Pangnirtung's April heat wave.

"It's like a heat pump, it's dragging this warm, moist air from the United States right up, not modifying it at all, coming up at higher levels so it's not being refrigerated by the lakes or the sea ice."

The same system is creating a wind warning for Kimmirut and a wind and blizzard warning for Sanikiluaq Tuesday, says Phillips.

Temperatures in Pangnirtung, Nunavut reached 10 C April 26. Seasonal temperatures are closer to -7 C. (Submitted by Daniel Kuluguqtuq)

According to Environment Canada, strong northeast winds of 70 km/h could gust up to 90 km/h in Kimmirut. In Sanikiluaq, winds could gust up to 90 km/h.

Phillips says Tuesday's temperatures are not a fluke. Tomorrow is also supposed to be unseasonably warm, with temperatures around 6 C.

"I always say: 'enjoy the weather, but be concerned by the climate. So maybe in the long run it's not a good thing, but I don't think anyone would take that away from you."

"It's like June"

Some Pangnirtung residents say while this week's temperatures are warmer than usual, warmer and earlier springs are becoming the new normal.

"It's like June right now," said Adamie Komoartok.

"The ice on the fiord, the snow on there is melting. We've got a little bit of water on the ice in the fiord. So we're a little ahead of normal by about maybe six weeks."

Komoartok says 30 years ago, this weather would be more typical later in the spring.

"The weather affects our community in big ways," said Komoartok.

"We're not going to be able to go hunting out in Cumberland Sound for young seals. That's been sort of normal here now. The ice breaks up just when the young seals are just becoming full bloom and we can hunt them. But nowadays the ice breaks up out there before we can even do that."

Komoartok says he expects the ice fishing season to end soon, with fishers taking their shacks from the ice on nearby Cumberland Sound back onto the land or into town.