N.W.T. temperatures soar above zero, breaking a record and causing some problems

·2 min read

Unseasonably warm temperatures so far this month are causing Northwest Territories residents some problems.

In Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., Chuck Gruben's truck wasn't having it.

"I started to back out of the driveway and I started going sideways," he told Wanda McLeod on CBC's Northwind.

The thermostat hit zero degrees in the hamlet on Thursday, balmy for this time of year, when the average high is around -20 C.

But Tuktoyaktuk's temperatures were frigid compared with other communities in the territory.

Norman Wells hit a tropical 11.1 C — smashing its previous record-high for December of 5.7 C, set in 1985.

Wrigley also hit 11 degrees Thursday, while Fort Simpson, Sambaa K'e and the South Slave region all saw temperatures above zero.

"It's not normal," said Gruben, commenting on the heavy rain he was seeing in Tuktoyaktuk.

Bradlyn Oakes/CBC
Bradlyn Oakes/CBC

He said conditions were slippery and many people stayed home.

"Even to get down your steps, it's pretty scary," he said. "My wife, she went out to her work truck this morning. She had to sit on the steps and go down each step on her bum."

The unusually warm weather may be even harder on the animals.

"For any animals or birds that forage out there, it's going to be hard to dig for food once it freezes," said Gruben.

While temperatures in Tuktoyaktuk are forecasted to descend into the minus-teens and twenties over the weekend, these recent days of rain and warmth might not be forgotten by the caribou.

"These are the kind of winters that we dread for the caribou," said Gruben, especially considering how animal numbers are declining.

"This just contributes to make it worse for them," he said. "Going to see a lot of skinny caribou."