North

Wekweètì cracks cold weather record at –52 C

With extreme cold warning warnings across the North and temperatures dipping below –40 C, not taking wind chill into account, Wekweètì, N.W.T., is the talk of the territory as it stood out as the country's cold spot on Sunday.

Canada has not seen temperatures this cold since 2017

The ice fog can be seen in Yellowknife, which has also seen extreme cold weather this week due to a polar vortex. (Submitted by Julien Schroder)

The weather was snow joke this past weekend.

With extreme cold warnings across the North and temperatures dipping below –40 C, not taking wind chill into account, Wekweètì, N.W.T., was the talk of the town as it stood out as the country's cold spot on Sunday.

Shattering freezing temperatures that have not been seen since 2017, the community of Wekweètì, located along Snare River in the Tłı̨chǫ region, recorded –52 C.

"On the Arctic, on the tundra, you get really cold temperatures, but nowhere is really immune," said Rob Griffith, Environment Canada lead meteorologist for the N.W.T.

With a polar vortex settling in, Griffith estimates the N.W.T. will have cold temperatures for the foreseeable future, or at least the next five to seven days.  

The last record breaking cold temperature in the North was four years ago at –54.7 C in Mould Bay, N.W.T. — a High Arctic weather station on Prince Patrick Island.

The polar vortex has been bringing bitter cold across the territory and to the Prairies. The mass of cold air has also been breaking records in those provinces.

The ice fog can be seen sweeping across Inuvik this week. An Environment Canada spokesperson said cold weather is here to stay for the foreseeable future. (Submitted by Kristian Binder)

Wind chill an important factor

While base temperatures were already in the extreme cold rating before wind chills, Griffith warned against discrediting wind chill estimates.

"Wind chill is a sensation for exposed skin," he said, noting air around you keeps you warm.

"But as the wind picks up, the warm air envelope blows away and you are constantly losing energy to the cold air … so basically it is a value created to help us protect ourselves on an extremely cold day with wind."

Anything –50 C and below qualifies as extreme cold.

"Hopefully, this is as cold as it gets and we only get warmer from here," Griffith said with a laugh. 

With files from Joanne Stassen

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