'Rubber boots season' as historical high temperatures hit the territories

Unseasonably high temperatures are breaking records, some in an extreme way in the territories, on Tuesday.

As of 4 p.m. MT, the community of Nahanni Butte was the N.W.T.'s hot spot, passing the 21 C mark, according to Environment Canada. That number blew past its previously recorded high temperature of 12 C for March 19, set in 2003.

Fort Liard has reached 18 degrees and has a forecasted high of 19. That number would far exceed the current record high for March 19, which was set at 12.5 C in 1979.

The community is known as the "tropics of the North," according to Hillary Deneron, who works at the general store in Fort Liard, N.W.T., but even this is pretty surprising.

"That's crazy. I know a lot of people, they travel to Fort Simpson and they're talking about not wanting to cross the ice road because of the water on the ice," Deneron said.

The territorial government echoed ice road concerns in a Tweet about the Mackenzie Valley Winter Road that went out around noon MT on Tuesday.

The deteriorating conditions of the Mackenzie Valley road kept Linda Kochon Manuel from leaving Wrigley, N.W.T., to return home to Colville Lake as she had planned on Tuesday.

There were about 20 vehicles stuck on a steep hill that thawed and become muddy. The vehicles were awaiting help from heavy equipment, Manuel said.

She said as a Dene woman, she was determined to get across once the situation was looking a little better.

Not all was lost: while she waited, she decided to sit in on a family violence workshop that she wouldn't have had access to if she had gone home earlier.

Slush and mud

In Fort Liard, Deneron's biggest concern is whether the annual fishing derby in Fort Liard will go ahead as usual.

Another drawback to the rising temperatures is slush that seems to be inescapable — even on the community's roads.

"You can't walk anywhere with runners on…. It's pretty sloppy within the community with all the slush and the mud around," Deneron said.

Luckily, the general store sells a quick and easy solution: rubber boots.

"They're definitely hot sellers right now," Deneron said with a laugh.

"You definitely gotta have your rubber boots season on right now."

Alex Brockman/CBC

Even though Nahanni Butte has currently claimed the title as the territories' hot spot, Deline, N.W.T. was forecast to break its weather record by the most: Its previous high on March 19 was set in 1998, at -7.3 C, and it was forecast to hit 10 C on Tuesday. As of 2 p.m., it's up to 8 C.

The Environment Canada weather record data goes back further for some communities than others, with some having data collection beginning in the 1990s and others going back to the 1940s.

Other heavy hitters include Colville Lake, which hit 8 C by 4 p.m. Mountain Time, Fort Simpson, which hit 16 C, and Gameti, which hit 9 C.

All but two communities in the Northwest Territories were forecast to break records on Tuesday, putting the expected records there at 25. As of 4 p.m., 23 communities had set new Environment Canada highs for March 19.

Seven Yukon communities, including Whitehorse, had broken daily records as of Tuesday afternoon. Kugluktuk, in Nunavut, was also forecast to have a record high temperature Tuesday.