A pedestrian on Fourth Avenue is reflected in a puddle during a recent warm snap. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Blame Hawaii for Yukon recent warm snap

Temperatures at the first half of the month were ‘incredible,’ says meteorologist

Those unusually high temperatures in Whitehorse during the first half of December?

Blame Hawaii.

The warm air that lifted Whitehorse’s daytime highs well above freezing, melting snow and creating a slippery mess on the city’s sidewalks, originated in the area around the Pacific archipelago, an Environment Canada meteorologist said.

“The biggest story so far is just that it’s been so incredibly warm in Yukon for the first half of the month…. Looking back at the statistics, it was well above zero in Whitehorse for many days this month already, which is very unusual. It’s incredible,” said Doug Lundquist, the warning preparedness meteorologist for the B.C. interior and Yukon.

“We got a subtropical flow, so the air in Yukon was originating more down around Hawaii and the subtropics and although it wasn’t as warm as there, a lot of that warmth (was) surfacing in the Yukon.”

The warm air also got a helping hand from a ridge of high pressure that parked itself over western Canada, trapping the warmth and preventing cold air from moving back in.

“It was those two things, that warm origination of the air and this ridge of high pressure that blocked the pattern,” Lundquist said.

As a result, he said, temperatures were, on average, about 3.4 C higher than usual for this time of year in Whitehorse. In fact, the city even broke a daily historical record high — on Dec. 6, Whitehorse hit 5.9 C, the warmest temperature recorded for that day since at least 1900. It’s also a far cry from this time last year, when the high was -19.6 C, and 2015, when the high was -8.2 C – the second-warmest Dec. 6 in the past five years.

Eight other days this month, while not record-breaking, were the warmest recorded since at least 2009. By contrast, for the same period last year, the recorded highs were well into the negative teens and low 20s.

“It’s incredibly above normal and there’s only been a few millimeters of precipitation, which is fairly low for this time of year, so this is extraordinarily warm weather,” Lundquist said. The relative dryness makes it distinct from what’s colloquially known as a “Pineapple Express,” he added, which, although also originating from Hawaii, brings with it heavy precipitation.

As Whitehorse residents have probably noticed by now, though, the warmth appears to have moved on, plunging the city back into more seasonal temperatures.

“The upcoming weather for the next couple of weeks will probably be closer to the usual,” Lundquist said.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Yukon government starts talking electoral reform

Yukon government launches survey to find out what Yukoners think about electoral reform

Climate change isn’t a one-issue issue for council candidate

Considering climate change can address other municipal concerns, says Kim Lisgo

Yukon MLAs consider a bigger payday

New bill proposes salary increase for some members of the legislative assembly

Curtis campaigns for third term

Collaboration is key, he says

Commentary: Consider the city’s bears when going to mark your ballot

Those in the municipal election should commit to developing a human-bear conflict management plan

Yukon soccer teams represent at Canada Soccer National Championships U15 Cup

“Everybody brought their game to a totally new level and set a (new) bar”

Commentary: Celebrating Hanksgiving

Instead of a cornucopia centrepiece filled with autumn foods and flora, we use the Wilson volleyball

U Kon Echelon holds weekend mountain bike racing camp in Whitehorse

“It’s incredible the changes I’m seeing from when we started in September to now”

Liberals to scope out ‘efficiencies’ in departments

The premier was asked about ostensible reductions to department budgets at question period

You and your new car warranty

There are some things that may put your new vehicle or extended warranty at risk

Whitecaps, TSE partner for new youth soccer academy centre program

“They’re building on that relationship”

History Hunter: A tribute to the Palace Grand Theatre

It was the best designed and most pretentious of all the theatres in Dawson City

Most Read