Cold's a comin
Winter weather creeps over the North

Cindy MacDougall
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 18/99) - It's coming. The official first day of winter is months away, but winter weather is creeping through the Northwest Territories, from Sachs Harbour to Fort Smith.

Jill Taylor, vice-principal of Mackenzie Mountain school in Norman Wells, said the playground is covered in light snow, and the students are loving it.

"The snowballs have just started," she said with a laugh. "It's still tough for sledding, but the kids can't wait until there's enough for skiing."

She said the school sent a note home reminding parents and students to bundle up.

"They're wearing their mitts, hats and boots," she said. "But it's still pretty nice up here."

Len Fehr, a climate specialist with Environment Canada, said while snowfall is unpredictable, the colder temperatures will soon march across the territory.

"The time when the overnight low tends to be -10 C is coming," he said. "For Yellowknife, that happens around Oct. 31. In Norman Wells, it's about the 23rd. And Inuvik? Well, we've hit it. It's the 13th."

The next big cold weather measuring stick is when daytime highs are around -10 C.

Inuvik will feel the chill at the end of October, while Yellowknife and Norman Wells tend to hit those temperatures during November.

Alex Kaglik, vice-chair of Inuvik's Hunters and Trappers committee, said it's staring to get cold.

"The cold doesn't hurt the trapping, though," he said.

"When the warm weather comes, trappers get busy, though," Kaglik said. "You tend to look after your traps when it isn't 40 below!"

Kaglik said winter snows are a big help on the trapline.

"Trappers can use light snow to cover their traps," he said. "So the more snow, the more likely you are to get more furs. Snow really helps the traps."

As for those travelling around NWT, it will be a while before the ice roads are made. But some ferries may stop crossing for the winter soon.

"It was feeling pretty soon after the cold snap last week," joked Les Shaw, director of marine services for the Department of Transportation.

"But it's really too early to tell."