Centre of violent blizzard to pass over Iqaluit Tuesday night

CBCJanuary 7, 2014
Apartment buildings are barely visible in a windstorm that's battering Iqaluit, Nunavut. Environment Canada says winds are gusting as high as 130 km/h.

Dangerous blizzard conditions have developed over most of southern Baffin Island, with Iqaluit reporting sustained winds up to 110 km/h, "close to that of a category 1 hurricane," says CBC North meteorologist Christy Climenhaga.

Sustained winds of 120 km/h or more are categorized as hurricane strength. Wind gusts are approaching 140 km/h.

Qulliq Energy Corporation said there have been intermittent power outages in Iqaluit.

Environment Canada said the centre of the storm is forecast to pass right over Iqaluit overnight. It warns that though winds will diminish to light overnight as the storm moves directly overhead, powerful southeast winds will redevelop early Wednesday morning.

Winds are picking up at Pangnirtung, and forecasters say the hamlet should be prepared for a violent blizzard Tuesday night with damaging winds gusting up to 140 km/h and zero visibility.

Some residents are fearing for their property and watching out for flying debris. 

"My passenger window in the car blew out," tweeted Iqaluit resident Curtis Didham.

"Scary winds here in Iqaluit," wrote Janine Budgell on Facebook. "My shed just blew into my neighbour's truck!"

City dispatch suspended all operations Tuesday afternoon, meaning business throughout the city has largely shut down. 

Before the shutdown, the City of Iqaluit advised residents to conserve water and stay off roads, unless absolutely necessary. Many residents in the city rely on trucks to deliver water and remove sewage. Crews were on the roads early this morning, before the storm, to make last-minute stops. 

A city spokesperson said additional fire and ambulance crews will be at the fire hall, but emergency services may be delayed because of the weather. Qikiqtani General Hospital is also closed, except for emergencies.

Schools and government offices in Nunavut's capital were closed Tuesday. Schools and offices were also closed in Rankin Inlet, Cape Dorset, Arviat, Coral Harbour, Pangnirtung and Baker Lake.