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Coastal Labrador is about 3 degrees warmer than usual, but the sea ice has still shown up

The storm in Makkovik brought large amounts of snow to people's roofs, including for Barry Andersen's father, Harold. People had to shovel their roofs when the weather cleared.  (Submitted by Barry Andersen  - image credit)
The storm in Makkovik brought large amounts of snow to people's roofs, including for Barry Andersen's father, Harold. People had to shovel their roofs when the weather cleared. (Submitted by Barry Andersen - image credit)

After a delayed start to winter in Labrador, the Canadian Ice Service said Labradorians can expect typical ice conditions but warmer, milder weather than usual in February and March.

"It's going to be the ice they're expecting. It's normal ice conditions, the weather conditions [are] probably a little bit better, if only the temperature," said George Karaganis, senior ice forecaster at the Canadian Ice Service.

From Feb. 15 to March 15, temperatures are expected to be three to four degrees warmer than normal for Labrador, and March itself is expected to be about two to three degrees warmer than normal, Karaganis said.

At the beginning of February, the amount of ice on the Labrador Sea was typical for this time of year, compared to recent years, even with a late start, Karaganis said.

"It's a little bit less than the 20- and 30-year averages, but it's pretty near the averages," Karaganis said.

There are two types of sea ice. Fast ice freezes from the land and heads out to the sea, while sea ice freezes further north and comes down toward Labrador, connecting to the fast ice from the land.

With a warmer start to the winter, and rain near the end of December, Karaganis said the fast ice started slower than usual this year.

"It's been a little bit warmer than normal, but it's still cold enough to form ice," Karaganis said.

"So it started a little slower because it was quite a bit warmer than normal in November and December. It's caught up, almost."

Makkovik snow dump closes school, offices while people dig out 

A dump of snow that hit Postville and Makkovik has the Makkovik mayor concerned about short-term impacts on ice, but said it'll have positive long term effects for people needing to travel on snowmobiles.

Last Friday, the downpour of snow began, said Makkovik AngujukKak Barry Andersen.

Andersen said 85 centimetres or more are estimated to have fallen that day.

The snow drifts at the school in Makkovik stretched to the roof and the snowfall covered the playground and entrance.
The snow drifts at the school in Makkovik stretched to the roof and the snowfall covered the playground and entrance.

Snowdrifts at the school in Makkovik stretched to the roof and the snowfall covered the playground and entrance. (Submitted by Holly Andersen )

"I can believe that," Andersen said. "The entrance of the school was completely covered right from the roof, from the eaves, right on down to the ground."

Many buildings had snow drifts covering the walls up to the eavestroughs, Andersen said. Long storms or large snow dumps are typical in the north coast, but this one was earlier than some others, Andersen said.

People had to shovel off their roofs and clear the wood stove chimneys after a large dump of snow hit Makkovik in a short amount of time.
People had to shovel off their roofs and clear the wood stove chimneys after a large dump of snow hit Makkovik in a short amount of time.

People had to clear wood stove chimneys after a large dump of snow hit Makkovik in a short amount of time. (Submitted by Barry Andersen )

"It's not unusual to have snowy conditions, this time of the year, especially coming into March," Andersen said. "It was always our snow month in March. So we're getting close to that now, middle of February, getting into March, with the changing times, I guess."

Despite the short-term difficulties, the snow is expected to compact on the trails in time and make them easier to drive on for people heading into the forest or in-between communities, Andersen said.

The snow on Glenda Sheppard's roof in Postville was almost as tall as her shovel after Postville and Makkovik were hit by a snow storm on Friday.
The snow on Glenda Sheppard's roof in Postville was almost as tall as her shovel after Postville and Makkovik were hit by a snow storm on Friday.

The snow on Glenda Sheppard's roof in Postville was almost as tall as her shovel after a snowstorm hit Postville and Makkovik a week ago. (Submitted by Glenda Sheppard )

Tracking ice on Kaipokok Bay 

A new ice monitoring site has been set up to better understand how the ice forms near Makkovik and Postville. The site is set up near the centre of Kaipokok Bay, between the two communities.

"All of these data are going to be used to kind of give us a better understanding of what's going on with the ice and what causes ice melt and growth in these year to year changes in ice conditions," said May Wang, a PhD student at Dalhousie University.

The site is set up with the Ocean Frontier Institute and includes a suite of scientific instruments, including ones that monitor the ocean temperature, atmosphere temperature and ice. They're set to be there until the ice has finished melting in April.

Researchers with the Ocean Frontier Institute are asking people to stay about 50 meters away from the ice monitoring system on Kaipokok Bay.
Researchers with the Ocean Frontier Institute are asking people to stay about 50 meters away from the ice monitoring system on Kaipokok Bay.

Researchers with the Ocean Frontier Institute are asking people to stay about 50 metres away from the ice monitoring system on Kaipokok Bay. (May Wang/Facebook)

"The ice system is so complex," Wang said. "It's not just about air temperatures being warm or cold — there's also a lot going on in the ocean that we just don't really understand."

Researchers with the Ocean Frontier Institute and Postville community have set up a sea ice monitoring system on Kaipokok Bay.
Researchers with the Ocean Frontier Institute and Postville community have set up a sea ice monitoring system on Kaipokok Bay.

Researchers with the Ocean Frontier Institute and Postville community have set up a sea ice monitoring system on Kaipokok Bay. (May Wang/Facebook)

The monitoring is a community effort with the Nunatsiavut government and Postville community, Wang said. People are asked to stay about 50 metres away, so they do not affect the monitoring work.

Wang hopes they can continue the work in future years, as the climate continues to change.

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