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Storm brings high winds and blowing snow to Yellowknife

Last modified: December 3, 2022 at 10:50pm


Wind and snow reached Yellowknife on Saturday evening with the city braced for possible Arctic storm gusts of 90 km/h or more overnight into Sunday.

Multiple flights to the territorial capital were scrapped on Saturday and several flights on Sunday have also been cancelled as a consequence of the severe weather.

Airlines warned that other flight cancellations may follow.

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Environment Canada has slightly dialled back the strength of the expected peak winds. In a Saturday 10pm advisory, federal forecasters said they now expect gusts of around 90 km/h, not 100 km/h as was previously forecast.

Wind warnings are now also in place for Hay River and Fort Providence.

Two significant Yellowknife power outages have so far been reported – one early on Saturday evening and a second shortly after 9:30pm.

The NWT Power Corporation said the first citywide outage was caused by “a partial loss of supply from Snare hydro,” a hydroelectric system northwest of the city. Whether there was any connection to the expected high winds – often a cause of power disruption when trees are blown onto transmission lines – was not immediately clear.

By the time of the second outage, a combination of swirling winds and blowing snow not commonly seen in Yellowknife had descended on the city.

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To many residents, Yellowknife’s weather on Saturday night in effect represented blizzard conditions, even if Environment Canada hadn’t used the term.

Bizarrely, those conditions – and a relatively warm accompanying temperature of up to -2C – came just a day after the city posted a low of -40.9C, the coldest temperature on record for Yellowknife on December 2 of any year.

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Just before 11pm, power distributor Northland Utilities said more outages could occur.

“We continue to experience windy conditions and drifting snow that is expected to continue through the night which could cause possible interruptions,” the company wrote online.

An Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Yellowknife on Saturday evening was cancelled, as was a WestJet flight to the city from Calgary. Further WestJet services to and from Calgary on Sunday are also cancelled according to Yellowknife Airport’s departure board and WestJet’s website.

As of Saturday at 10:20pm, Air Canada expected to operate its Sunday morning Yellowknife-Vancouver service with only a slight delay.

Blizzard in Tuktoyaktuk, Paulatuk

Earlier on Saturday, power outages were reported in the Beaufort Delta as the storm first moved in from the Arctic coast. Stores in communities like Tuktoyaktuk and Paulatuk closed for the day as the storm rolled in, and Tuktoyaktuk’s Christmas market planned for Saturday was postponed.

The worst winds in the north of the territory passed in the afternoon. A blizzard warning ended in Tuktoyaktuk at 4pm and in Paulatuk at 6pm.

Elsewhere, Délı̨nę was under a wind warning. Similar warnings had ended in Inuvik, Aklavik and Colville Lake.

A Global Forecast System model shows expected wind strength across the NWT on Saturday and into Sunday.

Blowing snow advisories were issued for Fort Smith, Kakisa, Enterprise, Łútsël K’é and Wrigley.

In Norman Wells, a winter storm warning advised of up to 30 cm of snow expected by the end of Saturday. Winds of up to 80 km/h were forecast. A winter storm warning has now ended in Fort Good Hope.

Wekweètì, Whatì, Behchokǫ̀ and Fort Resolution are under a wind warning similar to that in effect for Yellowknife.

“Winds are forecast to weaken late Sunday morning,” Environment Canada stated. You can follow advisories on Environment Canada’s website.


If you’ve taken great photos or video of Saturday’s storm in the NWT – while staying safe! – we’d love to see. Send photos, video or URLs to mailbox@cabinradio.ca. (We may publish a selection of photos and video we receive.)