Yellowknife descends below -40C in wintry weekend from hell

Last modified: February 2, 2019 at 10:02am

Yellowknifers besieged Instagram with screenshots of weather apps as the city plunged into temperatures below -40C on Saturday.

By 9am, the temperature had dropped to -42.6C at Yellowknife Airport – the coldest recorded in the city since New Year’s Day 2014, when the low was -43.1C.

Wind chill dipped into the -50s as the region was placed under a weekend-long extreme cold warning by Environment Canada.


“A prolonged period of very cold wind chills continues,” Environment Canada declared in a warning posted early on Saturday morning.

“The cold wind chill is expected to persist into early next week, especially during the overnight hours.”

Only Łutselkʼe, at -43C, and Fort Reliance at -44.6C, were colder in the NWT at 9am on Saturday.

In a week where temperatures from -20C to -35C have made headlines as North America felt the grip of a polar vortex, Yellowknifers reacted with a mix of resentment and pride as the local weather gods demonstrated their power.

Instagram for many residents was awash with screenshots showing temperatures of -40C or worse, while many were learning important social media lessons – such as, hashtagging a temperature that begins with a minus sign won’t work.


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I think our thermometer is about to break 🌡️🥶

A post shared by Rob Epp (@soda_jerk) on

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A post shared by Red DeLuscious (@red.deluscious) on

The average low for Yellowknife on this day, taken from weather data spanning the three decades between 1981 and 2010, is -29.7C.

Though very few, if any, of the city’s current population were in Yellowknife to experience it, this weather pales in comparison to the winter of 1947.

The record low for February 2 is held by 1947, when the 2,000 or so residents of the time would have seen the temperature reach -46.1C.

Yellowknife’s all-time record low for any day, -51.2C, was set on three separate days in 1947: January 31, February 1, and February 4.

With files from Sarah Pruys