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Jinxing the tame winter

Kivalliq region marked by few blizzards this year
Conditions were clear in Baker Lake during the 2023 Sala Hockey Memorial. The Kivalliq as a whole, known as Blizzard Alley, has seen relatively flew blizzards so far this year. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

Last year saw a high number of blizzards in the Kivalliq, but a very different story has played out this season.

“Overall, we’ve definitely seen way less blizzards this year,” said Jesse Wagar, meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

She estimated there have been four or five blizzards in Rankin Inlet so far this year, with the prerequisites being visibility reduced to 400 metres or less, winds 40 kilometres per hour or higher and at least six hours of reduced visibility.

Wagar said part of what played into that this year was an “incredibly warm” November and early December in the area.

“When the temperatures get warmer, it is harder to blow snow around, so I suspect that is part of it,” said Wagar, admitting that in January and February the temperatures plummeted, and as previously reported, Rankin Inlet experienced a few record-cold days in February.

The other variable impacting the number of blizzards is average wind speed, said Wagar.

“To really get the low visibilities, not only do we need snow available to blow around, but we need strong winds, and the winds this year or at least through the winter months have been lighter than they have been previous years,” she said.

Between those two variables, the conditions haven’t been conducive to creating blizzard conditions in Rankin and much of the Kivalliq.

Due to the number of variable statistics, numbers are a bit tricky, but Wagar said it appears this year rivals 2019 and 2010 for fewest blizzards in recent history.

This year is also expected to be the last La Nina winter after three in a row, as the conditions will be moving to an El Nino system later in 2023.

Wagar added that there could still be more blizzards as winter and spring in the Kivalliq wrap up.