North

El Nino will bring fewer 'raw days' of winter to the N.W.T.

According to Environment Canada's senior climatologist, November was the eighth warmest on record in the N.W.T. And in the last week, 'temperatures have clearly been about a dozen or more degrees warmer than normal,' says David Phillips.

'It’s certainly been delightfully mild,' says David Phillips with Environment Canada

A shot of Reid Lake near Yellowknife on Nov. 29. November was the eighth warmest on record in Yellowknife and other parts of the territory, according to Environment Canada. (Katherine Barton/CBC)

It's dark, it's snowy and it's frozen — all signs that winter has arrived in the Northwest Territories. But what's remained elusive is the biting temperatures.

"It's certainly been delightfully mild for some people," says David Phillips, Environment Canada's senior climatologist.

The N.W.T. didn't break any records in November, but Phillips says it was the eighth warmest on record in Yellowknife and other parts of the territory.
'Temperatures have clearly been about a dozen or more degrees warmer than normal,' says David Phillips, Canada's weather expert. (Amanda Marcotte/CBC)
 

"Last year this time, you were dealing with –36 C air temperatures –40 C some windchills," he says.

"The last week or so, temperatures have clearly been about a dozen or more degrees warmer than normal."

Philips says you can thank this year's "super" El Nino.

"The toughness of winter has been a little slow to come in the Northwest Territories, as it is in most parts of Canada," he says.

"This year so far in Yellowknife, I looked up the number of what I call 'raw days,' below –20 C: You've had five of those. Last year you had 17 by this time."

'Takes the sting out of winter'

In the past, super El Ninos have caused a "mixed bag" of results in the N.W.T., Phillips says, causing normal to warmer temperatures and less snow than usual.

"My sense is that this will be certainly far milder than say two years ago, one of the toughest winters we've had to deal with," he says. "And it may be certainly milder than last year, and last year wasn't too bad for some people."

But Phillips assures Northerners that winter is by no means cancelled.

"You wouldn't want that because there can be some down sides to an El Nino kind of winter, particularly in the North with winter roads and the nature," he says.

"My sense is though that it will seem a little less of those raw days that you've seen in other years when El Nino breezes weren't blowing.

"It takes the sting out of winter."

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