Environment Canada’s senior climatologist David Phillips is calling Inuvik’s 52-hour snowfall last weekend “winter’s last hurrah.”
According to Phillips, the snowfall began around 7 a.m. May 25 and lasted until approximately 10 a.m. May 27.
While he said this is typical – there has never been a May in Inuvik on record without snow – this snowfall was out of the ordinary because of how long it went on.
“It was really quite an impressive bout of snow,” he said. “There were some cooler than normal conditions which is why you got the white stuff and not the liquid stuff.”
He said the visibility during snowfall was pretty good, but the snowfall was unexpected for most people.
“It clearly caught people off guard because what we had seen in the month up to that, temperatures had got up to 14 degrees,” he said. “This was just winter’s last hurrah, it was going out with a big bang.”
At this time of the year, temperatures are normally around 13C, whereas on the weekend, temperatures dipped to 1C or 2C.
“That’s nasty cold, that’s almost a dozen degrees colder than it should be for that time of year and it’s almost punishing in a way,” he said. “Everybody was shocked by the snow in Newfoundland, but Inuvik was also in that misery business too.”
Phillips said Inuvik will be experiencing warm spring temperatures going forward, with temperatures up to 18C on June 4.
“You’re going to be going from slush to sweat with temperatures that are five degrees warmer than normal,” he said. “Once you get temperatures rocketing up to that, it is very difficult for that kind of snowy condition to return.”
However, Phillips cautions that in Inuvik, snow is possible in every month.
“Days with snow are possible even in July,” he said. “In June, for example, Inuvik will get maybe a day or two days with snow on average … about two centimeters.”
He said this snowfall isn’t rare.
“Psychologically a downer, because you’d been seduced into thinking that winter was kind of over,” he said. “May turned out to be a little bit cooler than normal, but April was warmer than normal, and March was warmer than normal. I think it was a shock to the system.”
He said over the next two weeks, Inuvik will see warm spring temperatures.
“You’ve weathered it, you’re okay,” he said. “All of that snow is going to be ancient history.”