After more than 21 days of snow, December 2021 marks Whitehorse's second snowiest on record, according to a federal meteorologist.
The level of precipitation this month has been at 280 per cent of the December average, said Armel Castellan, a warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada.
"More impressive still, the [Whitehorse] airport has seen its eighth wettest December (and counting) on record," he wrote in an email to CBC News on Dec. 29.
The snow-on-ground measurement, which Environment and Climate Change Canada measures at the airport, found 58 cm as of Dec. 31. The second highest historical record for the month of December.
The temperature and precipitation records date back to 1942 in Whitehorse. The largest snow measurement was 65 cm in 1980, other notable years include 53 cm in 1971 and 52 cm in 2013.
"The snow on the ground is showing some impressive early winter numbers," wrote Castellan.
Cold Arctic air meets warm, moist Pacific air
Michael Smith, chief meteorologist for the Yukon Government, wrote in an email in late December, "this winter definitely stands out for snow depth and total precipitation" but he also noted it's "not record breaking."
He said the reason for all the snow has to do with the combination of air currents from different parts of the country, meeting overtop of Whitehorse.
"The cause of this snowy December has been the prevalence of cold Arctic air in southern Yukon, combined with warmer, moist air from the Pacific. When the two collide over southern Yukon is where Whitehorse tends to get its snowier months," explained Smith.
The Yukon Government has its own weather monitoring at the Whitehorse automatic weather station. On Dec. 29 the territorial government reported 57 cm of snow at the weather station. In years past, said Smith, there was 44 cm in 2020, 15 cm in 2019, 10 cm in 2018, and 11 cm in 2017.
The record for daily snow on ground still remains in the winter of 1980-81.
But streets covered with a white, winter coat are not the only thing Yukoners are noticing when stepping outside of their front door. Environment Canada said the Yukon has had a colder start to winter — which, metereorologically, begins on Dec. 1.
As of Wednesday, temperatures had been between six and seven degrees colder than average December temperatures, setting it on track to be the nineteenth coldest December on record.
Castellan said people can expect colder-than-average temperatures over the next week, with lows around the mid –40's C in early January, before factoring in windchill.
Castellan said the normal high in late December in Whitehorse is –13 C, and the low is –22 C.