In Yellowknife, 2020’s taking a record length of time to warm up


If you thought Yellowknife’s spring was bereft of any genuinely warm days – you’re right. It’s the longest we’ve had to wait since records began.

Heading outdoors in small numbers is one of the few remaining pleasures during the pandemic, but Yellowknifers are having to wait longer than ever for things to truly warm up.


Saturday, April 18 provided the city’s hottest temperature of the year so far: a high of a measly 1.7C.

No other year in Yellowknife’s weather history has reached late April with a maximum high that pathetic. Records began in 1943.

The daily high right now should be around 4C. Yellowknife in 2020 hasn’t come close. Some years may have had significantly colder spells – but none has been this not-warm.

And even when it comes to the cold, 2020 has been no slouch.

During a two-week period between January 6 and January 19, the city didn’t once creep above -30C. There have only been three longer colder snaps in the city this century so far. One was in December last year, lucky us.


Data for snow on the ground shows a similar pattern, though it can be a little less reliable.

Environment and Climate Change Canada puts the level of snow on the ground in Yellowknife right now at 24 cm. (Obviously, it varies depending where you are. That’s the reading from the official weather station.)

For this time of year, that’s a level not recorded in the city since the early 1990s, when snow into late April was much more common. In the majority of years since 2000, there wasn’t any snow left at all by the time we reached this point.

It’s about to warm up, at last

The data comes from the Weather Stats website, which maintains a searchable database of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s daily temperature readings.


Those readings include 2019 and its shockingly warm March, when Yellowknife reached 9C. In 2016, the city had made a foray above 10C by mid-April.

Further back, 2010 posted extraordinary 20-degree days on April 20 and 21. In 1993, Yellowknife almost broke into double digits on March 23.

In 1954, even by February there was a day with a high of 6C. (Without that day, though, 1954 would strip 2020 of its bleak title. That year, Yellowknifers had to wait until May for another day above 2C.)

The years 1948 and 1967 run 2020 the closest. In each of those years, Yellowknife got to April 22 before breaking 2C.

And now for the good news: Yellowknife is forecast to finally break 2C in 2020 on Tuesday, April 28.

As of Sunday evening, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s forecast suggested a high of 1C on Monday. Tuesday was set to reach 8C, with a chance of showers.