It was a whacky week of weather for the Yukon and beyond.
Several temperature and precipitation records were broken – if not smashed.
Highways were closed because of black ice.
Whitehorse was left dealing with excessive water in the streets because of wet snow and rain, accompanied by record-high temperatures.
Haines Junction was left digging out from more than 30 centimetres – some say a lot more – of snow before the freezing rain turned their
streets into skating rinks.
Cellphone service to the community was disrupted because of the impact the weather had on the microwave tower overlooking Pine Lake.
Haines, Alaska was hit with tragedy by landslides that destroyed homes and left two people missing (see coverage on pages 6, 15). The
excessive rainfall tore open the streets, making many impassible.
Juneau saw 200 millimetres of rain, Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan said Thursday.
While most highways have reopened, the South Klondike Highway remains closed from Carcross to Skagway because of avalanches that
have left metres of snow to be cleared. It’s expected to remain closed for the next couple of days.
Castellan explained the unusual weather was brought into the Yukon and the Alaska panhandle by an “atmospheric river” moving north from
the tropics, bringing excessive amounts of moisture and warmth.
The amount of wet snow and rain that fell in Whitehorse on Tuesday and Wednesday was in record territory, he explained. To have two days of that amount of precipitation back-to-back is almost unheard of, he said.
Castellan said December sees about 16 millimetres of precipitation on average.
In just two days this week, he said, more than nine millimetres fell, or more than half the average for the whole month.
“It’s very rare,” he said.
Castellan said many of the temperature records were literally blown out of the water.
The Whitehorse temperature of 4.8 C edged past the previous record of 4.6 set on 2004, he said.
But the temperature of 7.7 C on Wednesday in Watson Lake blew past the previous record of 3.9 C set in 1963.
Teslin hit 8.1 C, easily surpassing the previous record of five C, also established in 1963.
The 8.4 C seen in Faro eclipsed the record of 1.1 set in 1969.
Several other temperature records were set right across the territory, Castellan said.
He said the high for Dawson City on Wednesday hit 4.4, for instance, surpassing by six degrees the previous recored of -4.4 established 40
Teslin Mayor Gord Curran said while the Alaska Highway running through the community was in good shape, the highway was closed for a
time because of ice in both directions, while transport trucks waited in Teslin for the highway to reopen.
The sidestreets, said Curran, were ice, though the community’s road crew was doing what it could to keep them sanded.
The mayor said Teslin didn’t get the heavy snow other communities got.
Dan Rodin, the chief administrative officer for Haines Junction, said Thursday the community received a double whammy – hit first by an
unusually high snowfall followed by the warming temperatures.
The village road crew put in long hours clearing snow, he said, adding the arena supervisor even got his ATV out and put on a plow to assist.
Rodin said today the effort was to be focused on grading the community streets to break up the ice in advance of sanding efforts.
The Alaska Highway was also closed for a couple of days heading into and out of Haines Junction, where there were also transport trucks backed up.
The Haines Road remains closed, which is another blow to Haines, Alaska and what it’s already dealing with, Rodin said.
“We feel for them,” he said, adding there is a special relationship between the two communities.
Andrew Anderson, Northwestel Inc.’s director of communications, said this morning the disruption to the network began Tuesday evening but
was corrected by 5 p.m. Thursday.