Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Climate Change August 22, 2016 - 11:44 am

High waves batter Nunavut’s most northerly community

Waves poured over coastal road over the weekend

JANE GEORGE
Waves pour over the road in Grise Fiord during the early hours of Aug. 20 when high waves battered the tiny Ellesmere Island community. (PHOTO BY BERNARD UNGALAAQ MAKTAR)
Waves pour over the road in Grise Fiord during the early hours of Aug. 20 when high waves battered the tiny Ellesmere Island community. (PHOTO BY BERNARD UNGALAAQ MAKTAR)
Here you can the waves flowing over the road in Grise Fiord Aug. 20. (PHOTO BY BERNARD UNGALAAQ MAKTAR)
Here you can the waves flowing over the road in Grise Fiord Aug. 20. (PHOTO BY BERNARD UNGALAAQ MAKTAR)

Big waves threatened infrastructure in Grise Fiord, Nunavut — Canada’s most northerly community — during the late evening of Aug. 19 and into the early hours of Aug. 20.

The waves battered and ran over the coastal road, although winds in Grise Fiord, population roughly 170, were not strong, said Bernard Ungalaaq Maktar, who took photos of the water pouring over the road.

The severe weather took place at a time when the sun in Grise Fiord still shines nearly 24 hours a day — with the sunrise occurring at 2:53 a.m., not long after sunset at 16 minutes after midnight.

Erosion caused by high seas and winds is not unknown in the Arctic: the residents of the Inupiat village of Shishmaref, Alaska, population 600, voted last week to move away from their community’s eroding site and escape the violent storms from the Chukchi Sea.

Shishmaref, on a sandy barrier island on Alaska’s Arctic coast, has struggled with erosion for decades, but, in recent years, storms have undercut permafrost, eaten at the shoreline and swallowed roads.

Baffin Island is also likely to experience some severe weather Aug. 22.

A strong low pressure system was expected to bring heavy rain and strong winds to southern Baffin Island ending late Aug. 22, according to Environment Canada.

The system tracking from Hudson Strait towards Coral Harbour will bring strong gusty winds and significant rainfall to much of southern Baffin Island as well as Southampton Island into the night.

Total rainfalls of 15 to 30 millimetres are expected in these communities along with winds gusting as high as 70 or 80 km/h. Pangnirtung will only have a few millimetres of rain, but is expecting strong gusts of 80 kilometres an hour later today into this evening.

There’s also a wind warning in place for the Nunavik communities of Salluit, Kangiqsujuaq, Quaqtaq, Kangirsuk, Aupaluk and Tasiujaq Aug. 22, with gusty winds of up to 90 km/h over western Ungava Bay.

These winds will move toward Hudson Strait, Environment Canada said.

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