Some parts of NWT could have warmest March day in years

Last modified: March 16, 2019 at 4:37pm

Forecasts for the coming week suggest some areas of the Northwest Territories could be about to experience their warmest March day in more than a decade.

As of Saturday afternoon, Environment Canada forecasts highs on Tuesday, March 19 of 8C in Yellowknife, 13C in Fort Smith, and 11C in Hay River.

If those temperatures come to pass, that would represent a 15-year high for March in Yellowknife.


The average high for mid-March in the city over the past 30 years is -10.5C, almost a full 19 degrees colder.

Fort Smith has only exceeded 13C four times in March over the past half-century, most recently in 2010 and 2004.

Hay River has reached 11C five times in March over the past 25 years, making its forecast high slightly less unusual.

“These are terrifying temperatures for March in Yellowknife,” resident Jess Dunkin tweeted earlier in the week. The city is forecast to experience highs above freezing all week, with night-time temperatures dropping only a few degrees below zero.

By contrast, five years ago, the city did not get into the positive figures for the entire month. According to Environment Canada data, March 2014 reached only -1.9C even in the daytime.


In March 2018, Yellowknife’s high for the month was 4.3C. The mean Yellowknife temperature in March 2018 was -15.2C.

Yellowknife has exceeded 8C in March on three occasions since Environment Canada’s temperature records for the region began in 1952.

The first was in 1973 (8.9C) and the most recent in 2004 (8.5C). March 1993 holds the record for the warmest single March day in Yellowknife history, when the city reached 9.3C on March 23.

If the temperature reaches 10C in Yellowknife for any sustained length of time this week, it’ll be a March record.


While residents may enjoy a spell of t-shirt weather, a significant period of temperatures that warm could pose difficulties for a range of operations in the area – from the Snowking Winter Festival to ice roads resupplying the diamond mines.

Extended forecasts, which are considered unreliable guides, suggest Yellowknife could experience just one more day that fails to reach 0C before the end of March.