Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut December 31, 2015 - 8:30 am

Icelandic storm makes North Pole feel like Vancouver

But system will have little impact on Nunavut, say meteorologists

This weather map, from, shows unusually warm temperatures across Greenland on Dec. 30. (WEATHERBELL.COM IMAGE)
This weather map, from, shows unusually warm temperatures across Greenland on Dec. 30. (WEATHERBELL.COM IMAGE)

Santa likely had to doff his red suit post-Christmas this year.

That’s because a North Atlantic weather anomaly briefly made temperatures at the North Pole comparable to those felt the same day in Vancouver, B.C.

Meteorologists at Environment Canada confirmed Dec. 30 that an ocean buoy near the North Pole registered a temperature of only 0 C.

“We had a buoy report up near the [North] pole showing about zero degrees just north and west of the pole this morning,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Kirk Torneby.

“It’s quite unseasonable and remarkable really.”

An average temperature for the pole, Torneby said, is difficult to determine because of moving temperature buoys.

He estimates the average temperature for this time of year, however, would be around -20 C.

The temperature blip is the product of a large winter storm that’s developing over Iceland.

The extreme low-pressure system over the country is drawing hot air up from the southern seas and blowing it into the Arctic.

And high-pressure zones, especially around Russia, are keeping that warm air away from mainland Europe.

The result is uncommonly high temperatures east of Baffin Bay, with unseasonal weather felt across Greenland earlier in the week that has now reached the North Pole.

Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, experienced a high of 3 C on Boxing Day, Dec. 26, with normal temperatures — which average -10 C — only now returning to the region.

For Nunavut, however, the weather event will have less impact.

“The upper part of the system will slowly transition across to Baffin to merge with another one and bring a little bit of warm air up between Baffin and Greenland, but not really affecting Canada’s weather so much,” said Torneby.

Residents on the east coast of Baffin Island might see warmer temperatures over the weekend, said Torneby.

The buoy that registered the high temperature on Wednesday is located about 150 nautical miles from CFB Alert on the tip of Ellesmere Island.

But researchers at the base looking forward to ditching the parkas, dusting off the margarita blender and cranking a little Jimmy Buffett will sadly be left out in the cold.

The base recorded a balmy morning temperature of -28 C which rose to -22 C in the afternoon.

Environment Canada says the weather anomaly will be logged for future research, but the event itself might be less about the Arctic than about the perfect storm developing over Iceland.

“It’s quite an unusual event, but maybe there’s not much of a lesson to be learned from it,” acknowledges Torneby.

The weather pattern is moving west across the North Sea.

And the British Isles are currently facing the brunt of the Icelandic storm, with heavy rains and gale-force winds buffeting much of Scotland, Ireland and the west coasts of Wales and England.

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