Yukon temperature records torched, weather expert says trend to stay

A couple of runners make their way across the Miles Canyon suspension bridge over the Yukon River in Whitehorse.
A couple of runners make their way across the Miles Canyon suspension bridge over the Yukon River in Whitehorse. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

WHITEHORSE – Temperatures have been hovering above 20 C in Whitehorse during the past week, melting long-standing weather records, and forcing locals to turn on sprinklers and don sandals and shorts.

Environment Canada meteorologist Andre Besson said the records began Sunday when the thermometer hit 25 C, followed by highs of 24.3 C on Monday, 23.4 C Tuesday and Wednesday and 24.7 C on Thursday.

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“We expect this trend to continue,” said Besson, noting no major weather systems are expected to arrive for about five to 10 days.

Long-term forecasts for this El Nino year indicates the summer will be likely warmer than average, he said.

The dry, warm weather has Yukon Wildland Fire Management officials working hard. They’ve brought in about 70 firefighters, mostly from Ontario, to help deal with the extreme conditions.

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While all burning permits in the territory have been cancelled, campfires outside Whitehorse and Kluane National Park are permitted.

Within the city, campfires are only permitted in approved fire pits inside established campgrounds or backyard fire pits that have been inspected and approved by the city.

Kluane National Park issued a complete fire ban Wednesday.

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Linda Rapp, the city’s director of community and recreation services, said staff have been getting parks ready about three weeks earlier than usual.

While it has been a bit of a scramble, a local community market has been busy, as have been parks where people can play beach volleyball and Frisbee and splash around on water playgrounds, she said.

Early evenings seem to be the busiest time at the parks around the city.

“It’s great to see,” she said.

Yukon Liquor Corp. spokesman Doug Caldwell said staff are noticing more sales of beer and coolers.

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He said sales rose 10 per cent the week before the Victoria Day long weekend when compared to the same stretch in 2014.

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Riverside Grocery owner Leona Commons said conversations inside the store are often about the warm weather, with many hoping it will remain through the summer.

She said ice cream and slushy sales have been brisk.

“It’s beautiful out there,” said Commons.