You could call it Arctic warming: temperatures in Iqaluit, Nunavut were overall +7 C higher during December, January and February than they were during these same three months between 1991 and 2020, as this map by Patrick Duplessis of Dalhousie University shows.
The significant positive anomalies during the winter of 2020-21:
+7 C for Iqaluit
+6.5 C for Kuujjuaq
+5.4 C for Clyde River
+3.5 C for Rankin Inlet
+4.9 C for Resolute Bay
February weather helped feed the three-month anomalies in Canada’s Arctic.
In February alone, Kuujjuaraapik and Kuujjuaq showed an increase of more than five degrees C over the normal average temperatures for the month. Iqaluit had a 7.5 C degree increase and Resolute Bay was 2.7 C warmer.
Also during that month, new records for daily high temperatures were set in Baker Lake, Gjoa Haven, Resolute Bay, Grise Fiord, Pond inlet Rankin Inlet and Arviat.
Three-month anomalies fed by record-breaking daily Arctic weather in February
In Naujaat, the temperature topped off at -5 C on Feb. 8 beating the previous old record from 2010 was -14.5 C.
And on Feb. 9 a high of -11.7 C in Resolute Bay set a new record high that date, The previous record was -13.9 C in 1960.
Feb. 11 also saw records tumble in Nunavut’s most northerly community of Grise Fiord where the high temperature of -6 C beat the old record of -10 C set 35 years in 1986. And in Grise Fiord it grew even warmer on Feb. 12, with the high of 2.5 C beating the old record of -9.6 C from 2011.
As well, in Kuujjuaq, record highs and lows were dropped on Feb. 6: the maximum temperature reached -0.2 C (old record -0.6 C set in 1958) and the minimum temperature was only -3.7 C (old record of -11.1 C set in 1958.)
Heat in the Arctic, cold to the south
Meanwhile, amidst these warmer than usual Arctic temperatures in mid-February, the southern continental United States saw frigid weather that produced big snowfalls over Texas, paralyzed much of the southern states and led to the death of nearly 80 people.
The cause: a meteorological event which meteorologists call a Sudden Stratospheric Warming Event. This one was located about 30 kilometres over the North Pole, said the World Meteorological Organization.
The warming event led to a weakening of the polar vortex, an area of low pressure and cold air surrounding the North, the WMO said.
And this weakness allowed the cold air to slip down into the mid-latitudes and warmer air to enter the Arctic…