Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

MISERY ON MAIN – The snowfall continued all morning in Whitehorse. Starting last night, snow has been piling up in mountainous volumes in southern Yukon. Numerous vehicles, including this one, had problems on Main Street.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

A skid steer clears the sidewalk in front of the Hougen Centre.

Snow has meteorologist expressing his disbelief

It’s been a snowstorm that Whitehorse never sees.

By Chuck Tobin on November 2, 2020

It’s been a snowstorm that Whitehorse never sees.

Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist said this morning Whitehorse has seen two days in a row of recording-breaking snowfall.

“I can’t believe what you are getting,” he said. “It has me shaking my head.”

At 5 a.m. Friday, Lundquist said, there were five centimetres on the ground in Whitehorse.

As of 10:00 this morning, there were 41 centimetres on the ground, he said.

Lundquist said the snow was to begin tapering off as the day went along.

The Whitehorse airport was closed at 11 a.m. today.

Several roadways were still closed early this afternoon, including the Alaska Highway between Whitehorse and Watson Lake.

The South Klondike Highway was closed at the Carcross Cutoff and the North Klondike was closed, though local traffic is permitted so people can return to their homes. The Tagish Road between Jakes Corner and Carcross was also closed.

Canada Post sent out a notice cancelling service today because it’s unsafe for staff to be out.

Whitehorse residents woke this morning to their vehicles buried in snow, with even driveways being impassable, particularly for vehicles without four-wheel drive.

Schools around the city remained open though the road into Golden Horn Elementary School was impassable and had to be cleared before buses and vehicles could get through.

The Carcross school cancelled classes for the day, though the Star hadn’t heard of any other closure this morning.

The Standard Bus Yukon dispatcher said of the 42 buses that serve the Whitehorse area, seven were unable to do their routes because of the heavy snowfall, or they had mechanical problems.

The two Marsh Lake buses, for instance, were not able to operate because they were getting stuck.

Richard Graham, the city’s manager of operations, said this morning they have a full complement of transportation staff out clearing roads.

They began at about 8 p.m. Sunday and will continue to work around the clock for as long as they have to, he said.

Graham said the priority is keeping the main roads open to ensure emergency vehicles can get through if need be.

Keeping the transit bus routes clear is also a priority, he said, adding it’s likely going to be a while before crews can get into the sidestreets.

He said crews will be focused on keeping the roads clear, but they won’t be removing any snow just yet.

The operations manager said he’s never seen this much snow come down in such a short period of time.

“This is ridiculous; it’s crazy,” Graham said. “I mean, Mount Sima is going to love it, but it’s still crazy.

“Everything has been put out all night and everything is still out. “It’s going to be a long few days here, there’s no ifs ands about that.”

It was also all hands on deck for the Yukon government’s Department of Highways and Public Works, said Oshea Jephson, a communications officer with the department.

Jephson said the Whitehorse airport was closed at around 11 a.m. because crews were having trouble keeping up with clearing the runways.

As well, about half of the runway lights were buried in snow, he said.

The federal meteorologist said the snow storm was precipitated by a low pressure system coming off the Gulf of Alaska, carrying warm air from as far away as Hawaii.

The storm was concentrated in the southern Yukon, and Whitehorse in particular, he said.

“I think this has really hit Whitehorse with a vengence,” he said. “It’s truly a record-breaking two days in a row.”

Lundquist noted Whitehorse only ever has one day in November that sees 10 centimetres in a day – once every five years.

Dawson City, he pointed out, didn’t get any snow and Mayo just had a little. Carmacks received 12 centimetres while Haines Junction got 10 centimetres and nine centimetres fell in Fort Nelson, B.C.

Comments (16)

Up 0 Down 6

micawber on Nov 6, 2020 at 4:54 pm

It was called global warming until George Dubya and his right wing deniers banned its use by anyone in his administration.

Up 13 Down 6

Karl on Nov 5, 2020 at 6:46 pm

It was called "Global Warming" until unusual weather events didn't fit their narrative anymore so then they changed it to "Climate Change".

Up 16 Down 8

My Opinion on Nov 5, 2020 at 2:17 pm

Big snow is what heals the Glaciers. I would have thought you would be happy. This is the opposite of Global Warming.
Maybe COVID no Flying, No driving, No Working, is having an effect that you have been looking for.

What does it take to make you see anything positive?
Oh Yeah that wouldn't suit your narrative.

Up 19 Down 24

Mick on Nov 4, 2020 at 3:17 pm

@... uh global warming

The term is 'Climate Change' and this snow fall is a manifestation of that.

That snowfall was more than TRIPLE the previous record. Are you following? We will see more chaotic weather patterns like hurricanes, monsoons, floods, droughts, wildfires etc. BUT the over all global temperature is continuing to rise at an unprecedented rate.

Up 10 Down 11

Robin Tolbert on Nov 4, 2020 at 1:59 pm

Yes, it was predictable related to climate change to due the SUN in a solar minimum shifting the Jetstream east with long lobes extending south causing polar vortex to central eastern Canada and USA.

Up 17 Down 14

Mich Piper on Nov 3, 2020 at 1:33 pm

I live in Ontario and starting Wednesday, we're supposed to get double digit weather which is nice this time of year. I've been to beautiful Whitehorse to visit my brother many times during the summer months. I believe the amount of snow you're getting in 3-4 days is unusual but I so wish I could be there to see it (and my brother of course). Be safe out there and be patient too as I'm sure it will all be cleared soon.

Up 76 Down 7

jason on Nov 3, 2020 at 12:31 pm

To the random guy that plowed most of our cul-de-sac (for free) and didn't even stop before he was on to the next job - thank you very much. It didn't go unnoticed.

Up 70 Down 8

Kristin Harrison on Nov 3, 2020 at 10:21 am

The snow was crazy but what wasn't crazy was the way Yukoners were helping each other. People forgetting their differences and seeing each other as a neighbor in need of a hand. The lending of helping hands is still happening as people buckle down to clear the snow. I love being a Yukoner! Proud of my people.

Up 58 Down 46

Matthew on Nov 3, 2020 at 4:52 am

Let me guess.. climate change right!? LOL! Let's be honest here.. 120 years of "data" on a planet 4.5B years old doesn't even seem worthy or scaring entire planet. Not to mention taxing 37M Canadians to the brink of bankruptcy is NOT going to save the planet either.. especially when our plan is to actually increase trade with China.. you know the country building HUNDREDS of coal plants a year..

Up 66 Down 3

Wilf Carter on Nov 2, 2020 at 7:55 pm

Residents of Whitehorse - thanks for the good deeds and the person who plowed out our drive. Whitehorse people are great.

Up 47 Down 18

Karen on Nov 2, 2020 at 7:43 pm

LOL this is funny, welcome to the North - all of this information is not unusual. Lived in Marsh Lake, worked in Whitehorse, moved to Dawson City, raised all my children in the Yukon, so reading this dramatic article of ones experience makes me think he has not lived in the Great White North and my children walked to school at -40. Vehicles were frozen solid unless you had a block heater and warming blanket. More winter weather to come, Ohhh the Drama...

Up 18 Down 58

... uh global warming on Nov 2, 2020 at 6:06 pm

--- it's global warming
The Yukon needs more bike paths.

Up 26 Down 2

Shirley McKay on Nov 2, 2020 at 6:04 pm

The Carcross School was not closed. The buses just didn’t run.

Up 15 Down 15

Gareth on Nov 2, 2020 at 4:50 pm

inb4 comments blaming it on carbon emissions instead of the gleissburg and landsheidt cycles.

Up 90 Down 5

Gringo on Nov 2, 2020 at 3:29 pm

My rant for this winter...we live in the North - snow is a given, everybody has a phone with a weather app. When it calls for snow (winter storm warning) move your vehicles OFF the road although this may be tough in Whistlebend given the knuckleheaded planning that went into that place. Second people on fat bikes stay OFF the road, you are a hazard to both yourself and everybody else driving. Merci

Up 35 Down 11

Wilf Carter on Nov 2, 2020 at 3:21 pm

Great reporting Star and our weather people and staff of the City. Keep up the great work.
I was just reading climate change forecasts but none of this was in there. We got record snow fail. Thanks to all hard working people who keep us safe, like RCMP, snow plow drivers, health care workers etc.

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