Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

LONE SOUL – A merganser, lower right, is seen last Sunday on the Yukon River. A deep freeze has hit Whitehorse and the rest of the territory, and Yukon Energy is asking residents to be aware of their record use of power, as the generators are maxed-out.

Frigid air mass parked over North isn’t going anywhere

Environment Canada meteorologist Terri Lang says nobody should be putting away their long johns just yet.

By Chuck Tobin on January 15, 2020

Environment Canada meteorologist Terri Lang says nobody should be putting away their long johns just yet.

Lang said this morning western Canada is in the grips of a stubborn Arctic air mass that’s likely to be around heading into early next week.

“This is big, thick, heavy Arctic air so it is hard to push out,” she said from her office in Saskatoon, where it was a balmy -39 C with a wind chill pushing it down to -52. “It will be into next week. It will slowly moderate.

“It is very hard to move because it is very heavy, dense air, and it really takes a good shove to get it going.”

Lang said it should warm to somewhere around -20 during the day early next week but will still be colder than the -13 average daytime high over the last 30 years for this time of year.

Even with the frigid temperatures across the territory, there has not been any records broken, the meteorologist pointed out.

Lang said while Mayo hit -49 overnight, the record sits at -58 set in 1971.

For Whitehorse, the record stretches back to 1909, when the thermometer was registering -46.7.

Dawson City and Old Crow received some cloud cover and a slight moderation in the temperature this morning, hitting -31 and -29 respectively.

Inuvik was at -15 while Calgary was sitting at -30, Edmonton -34 and Prince George, B.C. -41.

Lang said when cloud cover moves in for one reason or another, it acts as a blanket to help keep in the warmth.

Records from over the years show a wide variation in temperatures for this day, with a swing of 50 degrees from +6 to -45, she pointed out.

Lang said gazing into her crystal ball 10 days or so, it’s looking like the temperatures will head to more seasonal averages the weekend after this weekend.

The current cold snap has been around for several days but the temperature did rise slightly above -20 to -19.6 on Jan. 9. For the sake of comparison, the last time Whitehorse had a cold snap where the temperature did not rise above -20 for five days or more was back in 2008, 2009, Lang explained. That cold snap began on Dec. 28, 2008 and ended on Jan. 12, 2009.

The cold has been prompting new records in the consumption of electricity.

Stephanie Cunha of Yukon Energy said generation on the grid hit a new high of 103.8 megawatts at 5:36 p.m. Tuesday. New records in peak generation have been set since the cold snap began.

Cunha noted how ATCO Electric Yukon fired up its backup diesel generators in Teslin, Ross River, Carmacks and Haines Junction to help meet the demand.

Yukon Energy’s peak generating capacity in the winter is 116 megawatts, with another 18 available from the nine, two-megawatt diesel generators being rented.

Of the new peak record of 103.8 megawatts, approximately 60 megawatts was being generated by hydro, 12.8 megawatts with natural gas and 31 megawatts by diesel, Cunha explained.

RE/MAX Action Realty co-owner Marc Perreault said this morning they’ve decided to open their offices at 10:30 in the morning instead of first thing so their employees can avoid the period of peak demand that occurs at breakfast time.

With just 14 employees not turning on the coffee pot or showering at the regular time, Perreault said he’s not sure how much of a difference they’re making.

But if a company has the flexibility to alter its hours to lessen the demand during the peak, he asks, why not?

He said having a power outage in these frigid temperatures wouldn’t be fun for anybody, especially those most vulnerable.

Comments (5)

Up 1 Down 0

Cernak from the great beyondo! on Jan 21, 2020 at 2:13 am

I predict it will warm-up Sunday morning.

Up 15 Down 1

Miles Epanhauser on Jan 17, 2020 at 1:56 pm

For me minus 20 to 25C is ok, minus 40 is cold and minus 46 brutal.

Up 13 Down 2

Groucho d'North on Jan 17, 2020 at 10:41 am

Looks like it's time for me to wash my car. Then it will warm up to slimy muddy roads once again.
You can thank me later.

Up 12 Down 1

Rob on Jan 16, 2020 at 7:07 am

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me 350,000 times, you are a weather man!
Looks like it’s suppose to warm up in a few days.
Thank god.
Hope everyone stayed warm.

Up 24 Down 11

Matthew on Jan 16, 2020 at 7:00 am

Good thing we have a carbon tax to protect us from the cold! Phew! LOL We live in Yukon, avg winter temp must be -15, with a brand new massive subdivision with 2500 sqft house demanding electric heat you bet your ass things WILL get worse, of course at the expense of taxpayers..

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