AWG Igloo takes beating from sun

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A Hay River woman had to battle the elements – specifically unseasonably warm temperatures and sunshine – to preserve an igloo she built as a personal project for the Arctic Winter Games.

And as of late last week, it looked like Teira Arnault had won the battle, even though the igloo took a bit of a beating.

On March 14, Teira Arnault checks an igloo she built near the Welcome to Hay River sign. She recently covered the igloo with a white tarp to protect it from the sun. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

However, Arnault warned it may now not be safe to enter because of the damage from the heat.

She finished building the igloo in late February in front of the Welcome to Hay River sign.

Arnault started to get worried about a week into March as the temperatures started to rise, and the ice started to deteriorate on the side of the igloo facing the river which gets the most sun during the daytime.

“That’s the side the sun is on all day,” she said. “So the ice is actually starting to rot and crystallize. It’s actually vaporizing and eventually there will be nothing left of it.”

So Arnault covered the igloo, which is four feet high and eight feet across, with a white tarp.

“I should have actually tarped it sooner, but I didn’t,” she said. “Just because the temperatures were still cold, but the sun was out so it was still getting on there.”

Arnault explained the white tarp reflects the sunshine from the igloo made of 600 multicoloured ice bricks.

“It’s just reflecting the heat,” she said. “If the colours were showing to the sun, then it would attract the heat and it would have been gone already I’m sure if I wouldn’t have put the tarp on.”

Speaking to The Hub on March 14, Arnault said she was hoping to save the igloo, noting the temperatures were supposed to cool off in a few days.

On that day, the temperature hit a high of 9 C and a low of just -3 C. The average high for March 14 is -9.2 C, while the average low is -21.7 C.

On March 15, Arnault did a few repairs to the igloo and threw some water on it to freeze overnight.

With the damage from the sun, she is not sure if the igloo is now safe to enter.

“I’m thinking not,” she said. “I’d worry about it collapsing, for sure.”

Arnault has heard some people are climbing on it, and she noted the ice would be heavy if the structure collapsed.

She has a locking wooden door that she may put on the tunnel entrance into the igloo.

Even if people shouldn’t enter the igloo, Arnault said it would still make for good pictures.

“The light would still come on at night,” she said. “It would still look nice. People could still get pictures around it. But for safety reasons I don’t think people should go in there.”

Arnault said she had heard from many people worried about whether the igloo would survive to the Arctic Winter Games.

Mayor Brad Mapes was one of those concerned residents.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” Mapes said of the igloo. “Obviously she’s fighting the weather just like all the other outside sports. So we’re hoping it survives. She’s been covering it up. It would be great to see it hold up for the winter games.”

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