Yellowknife on cusp of warmest recorded start to June


The year is 1994. The highway to Wrigley is being finished, a big NWT forest fire season is crackling to life, and lacrosse has just been named Canada’s national sport.

Plenty, clearly, was happening. Among it all, Yellowknife was sizzling. Residents basked in an average temperature of more than 18C, the hottest start to June the city has ever recorded.

Until now. Maybe.

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As of Friday, we’re enjoying the second-warmest start to a Yellowknife June on record. In all likelihood, it’ll soon surpass 1994 and become the warmest.

Normally, Yellowknife struggles to sustain temperatures above 15C in the first half of June. There are some years – including a few in very recent memory – in which the city couldn’t buy a 10-degree day, even as summer supposedly arrived.

But 2022 is putting together a rare streak of back-to-back-to-back glorious days, without tossing in the usual 6C or 7C curveballs. Days are coming in seven degrees hotter than average.

You only have to go back to 2019 to find one of Yellowknife’s coldest June starts on record, with a mean temperature of 5.69C across the month’s first nine days. (We know, nobody can remember what the heck happened in 2019 any more.)

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This year, by contrast, Yellowknife’s mean temperature across June 1-9 was 16.97C.

Only 1994’s 18.2C can beat it, but temperatures dropped off a cliff after June 9 that year. This year, Yellowknife is forecast to keep pumping out 20-degree highs for the foreseeable future.

Canoe jousting in 1994 (Fran Hurcomb photo)
Canoe jousting on Long Lake and kids at Fred Henne Park in 1994. Fran Hurcomb/NWT Archives

In all of this, spare a thought for Inuvik.

June in parts of the Beaufort Delta has been on the nippy side so far.

Inuvik even posted a mean temperature of -0.4C on June 5, only the second time the town has had a daily average below freezing that late in the year since 1996.

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This is only the third year on record that Inuvik has reached June 9 without a day that averaged 10C or more.

So far this year, Inuvik hasn’t had a single day reach a high of 20C. This century, only 2001 and 2004 managed the same feat.