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Wind wreaks havoc
Gusts up to 70 km/h knock out power, delay planes

Kevin Allerston
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 8, 2011

High wind speeds, with gusts up to 70 kilometers per hour, rocked Yellowknife Tuesday and Wednesday causing flight delays and a brief power outage.

NNSL photo/graphic

Jayko Palongayak fights the fierce wind in Yellowknife's downtown Wednesday, a day after the city was hit with a blizzard warning. Palongayak is from Kugluktuk and laughed off the cold, saying he's used to this sort of thing. - Kevin Allerston/NNSL photo

Power was knocked out to the downtown core and Old Town at 1:08 a.m. Wednesday after two power lines near the Raquet Club touched together.

“The wind of course causes the wires to bounce. In power line industry lingo we call it 'gallup' and once in a while two lines will slop together and cause an outage,” said Kevin Lailey, operations supervisor for Northland Utilities Yellowknife Ltd.

Power was fully restored to all affected areas within 18 minutes of the outage, said Lailey.

“There is the potential for the lines to break. There's definitely flashing, arching and what not. The lines in this case didn't break, but they did cause a flash,” said Lailey.

It was gusty enough that the Environment Canada weather office issued a blizzard warning for the city Tuesday afternoon.

“They certainly affect the operations here,” said John Curran, marketing manager for Discovery Air. “I guess given the high winds and the crosswinds in particular, it's really been causing a little bit of havoc with flight schedules, which has led to some delays.”

Curran couldn't say how many delays the wind caused but admitted it was a lot and that some flights couldn't take off Tuesday. He said the main issue for Discovery Air was the inability to clear landing strips at destinations in the NWT and Nunavut due to blowing snow.

As for coping with the wind, which coincided with temperatures that dipped to -17 C, he said he's dressing for the weather.

“I put the long johns on today,” said Curran. “I think (Yellowknifers) are a pretty hardy lot and we've seen strong winds before,” he said.

“There was some real mild air that came across into the Yellowknife area and pushed its way in, and then some colder air came over the area and this was a very strong low pressure system well to the east of you, really almost over Hudson Bay, but it was such a strong one. It was influencing areas all the way back to Yellowknife,” said Dale Marciski, a meteorologist with Environment Canada based in Winnipeg.

While the wind was strong, it did not break any records. The highest recorded wind speed for Yellowknife in December is 80 kilometres per hour.

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