Yellowknife ice testing starts, lakes not safe yet

Last modified: November 15, 2021 at 8:49am

Yellowknife’s first ice measurements of the season show none of the largest lakes around the city are yet safe for people to walk on.

The Great Slave Snowmobile Association, which carries out tests on behalf of City Hall, said on Sunday no lakes measured had reached the six-inch depth usually considered safe for walking.

Lakes tested include Great Slave Lake, Niven Lake, Long Lake, Frame Lake, Kam Lake, Grace Lake, Range Lake, and Rat Lake.


Rat Lake, at five inches of depth, has the thickest ice shown on the association’s first chart of the season.

The fact that the association’s opening readings are taking place so late into November is a sign of the abnormally mild fall Yellowknife is experiencing.

On this date last year, the association was completing its final measurements. By November 15, 2020, all lakes had reached six inches of thickness and been declared safe to walk on – including Great Slave Lake. This year, Great Slave Lake is still open water.

Virtually all lakes had also reached or exceeded six inches of thickness by this point in 2019 and 2018. The association’s ice measuring is beginning nearly a month later this year than in some recent years.

At the sandpits on the city’s limits, North Shore Towing reported hauling out two vehicles so far this fall after they went through the ice into pools of water.


A comparatively cold week ahead should accelerate this year’s freeze-up.

Yellowknife is forecast to have daily highs in the region of -11C for much of the week, roughly in line with seasonal averages, followed by highs of around -20C by the weekend, when lows will extend down to -25C.

Snowfall is another matter, with not much in the forecast for the week ahead. As of Saturday, Yellowknife had recorded two centimetres of snow on the ground, an almost unprecedented figure this late in the year. The average snow depth for mid-November over the past three decades is around 17 cm.