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Is it going to stay this cold in the NWT over Christmas?

Yellowknife Bay on the morning of December 29, 2021
Yellowknife Bay on the morning of December 29, 2021. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

An area of the NWT stretching from Norman Wells to Fort Simpson and Enterprise is under an extreme cold warning as of Tuesday. Those conditions could last for much of the week.

So what does that mean for the Christmas weekend? Is there any relief in sight after multiple days with lows dropping toward -40C? Or could the cold get even colder on Christmas Day?

That depends where you are. Here’s a summary of the outlook for six larger NWT communities, taken from Environment Canada’s forecasts as issued on Tuesday afternoon.

Yellowknife: Don’t expect much change. Yellowknife is forecast to hit -40C for the second time this month on Wednesday night, and the daily high isn’t expected to get above -30C until Boxing Day. The high for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is -30C.



Inuvik: Expect snow for the next couple of days and then significantly colder weather is scheduled to move in for the weekend. Christmas Eve will hover around -35C and Christmas Day might be only a degree or two warmer, with no let-up on Boxing Day.

Norman Wells: The town is forecast to reach a brain-stomping -42C without the wind on Tuesday night. Anything would feel better than that so the good news is that Christmas Eve’s forecast high of -31C should at least feel warmer than Tuesday did. But daily lows on the weekend will still push close to -40C.

Hay River: The Hub should warm up a fair amount in the next few days, from a forecast low of -41C on Wednesday to highs of -26C on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Fort Smith: Fort Smith has a few cold nights coming up but gets above -30C on Friday and is expected to record a high of -25C on Saturday (it’ll be a dull, cloudy day, mind you). Christmas Day drops to -29C before warming up again slightly on Boxing Day.

Fort Simpson: There will be almost no let-up in a series of very cold days. Overnight lows at or near -40C are expected on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and even warming up as far as -30C looks unlikely on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Boxing Day, with a forecast high of -31C, might be as warm as it gets.