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Whitehorse forecasting week-long cold snap, -54C wind chill

Very cold temperatures and wind chill values expected to push through Friday
A raven flies and a pedestrian strolls shortly before noon in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 19. An extreme cold warning is expected to push through this week until the weekend. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

The Yukon has been engulfed by an extreme cold snap expected to last until the end of the week.

Environment Canada is warning temperatures are dipping to -46C with wind chill on Dec. 19. It warns of “frostbite in minutes” over the course of the day.

The extreme cold will persist with highs averaging around -35C and lows around -39C forecasted until the weekend. Temperatures will then warm slightly with highs of -31C and -25C forecasted for Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Environment Canada issued an extreme cold warning Monday morning amid the threat of “bitterly cold temperatures and dangerous wind chill values” for the southwest, central and northern parts of the territory.

As Arctic air has settled into the region, multiple days of “very cold wind chills” are expected to push through Friday, according to the public alert.

Derek Lee, meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said by phone Dec. 19 that temperatures will begin moderating going into the weekend, with a chance of warmer air coming in from the Pacific, although it will remain “rather cold.”

Fog will also persist throughout the week, Lee said. Lee explained a ridge of high pressure over the Yukon is causing a very cold, stagnant air mass.

“The air gets trapped,” Lee said, adding that any source of moisture from car exhaust and homes can just “linger there.”

The alert advises that frostbite can occur within minutes on exposed skin, so cover up.

“Synthetic and wool fabrics provide good insulation,” reads the alert.

“If it’s too cold for you to stay outside, it’s too cold for your pet to stay outside.”

The alert advises outdoor workers should take regularly scheduled breaks to warm up.

The criteria on the Environment Canada website states that an extreme cold warning is issued for the Yukon when the temperature or wind chill is expected to reach –50C for at least two hours.

The alert adds that extreme cold warnings are put out when the weather creates an elevated risk to health such as frost bite and hypothermia.

Contact Dana Hatherly at

Dana Hatherly

About the Author: Dana Hatherly

I’m the legislative reporter for the Yukon News.
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