It was hot in much of the Northwest Territories in late June, but no area-wide weather records have ever been broken, at least not officially.
During that heat wave, a temperature sensor at Fort Smith Airport recorded 39.9 ° C.
This June 30 temperature could have been a record for the NWT, but it wasn’t made official as it was based on data from the wrong temperature sensor.
The officially hottest day recorded in the Northwest Territories remains in Deline on Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 39.5 ° C. This Deline record broke the previous record of 39.4 ° C set on It was recorded July 18, 1941 at Fort Smith some fronts.
What does “wrong temperature sensor” mean?
Fort Smith has two weather stations. There’s an Environment Canada climate station – built and maintained to strict World Meteorological Organization standards – and a NAV Canada temperature sensor at Fort Smith Airport that isn’t.
Environment Canada’s sensor generally provides official temperature records, but was busy on June 30th.
Sara Hoffman, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada in Edmonton, told CBC that she performed a routine diagnostic self-assessment in the late afternoon. The good news is that the sensor is working just fine. The bad news is that the temperature was not recorded during the hottest part of the day.
“So … we don’t currently have an official value or daily high for June 30, 2021,” said Hoffman.
“What we can do is use the NAV Canada site as an estimate of the daily high … but that estimated value would not go into the records or create a record for the area. It would only be an estimated daily high.”
The temperature of 39.9 degrees measured at Fort Smith Airport remains an estimated daily high. It is also the temperature reported in Environment Canada historical weather data online, with the caveat that it is not official.
Environment Canada’s climate station record for Fort Smith on June 30th is 38.6 ° C, but that, too, is not official due to the self-diagnostic routine that turned the sensor off.
“Unfortunately, with the data missing for an hour, we have to go through quality control to see if we can accept the data or not before it gets into our database,” said Hoffman.
Hotter day that doesn’t count
Unofficially, the territory was hotter – on July 20, 2002, a volunteer-run weather station on the Rampart River recorded 40.6 ° C. This would have been the hottest day ever recorded on the NWT, but Environment Canada quality control experts were concerned .
“You have not been able to rule it clearly [the recording] out, but they couldn’t find any data to confirm this, “said Hoffman.” We can’t say this is an official record. “
So official and for the record, the NWT hot weather records are: Deline with 39.5 ° C on August 6, 2015; Fort Smith at 39.4 ° C on July 18, 1941; and Fort Simpson with 38.8 ° C on July 9, 2010.
But unofficially, temperatures reached 40.6 ° C on the Rampart River in 2002 and 39.9 ° C on June 30 at Fort Smith.
So it was hot what’s the big deal?
These high temperatures in Fort Smith were unusual for June.
The average temperature for June 30th is 23 C. That makes temperatures of 40 degrees on this day an anomaly. And exceeds the previous day’s high by several degrees.
“The previous record for June 30th at Fort Smith was 31.7 ° C and was set in 1955,” said Hoffman.
The heat wave that hit the southern part of the territory was part of the widely used heat dome now viewed as one in the 1,000 year event. Hoffman said scientific consensus blames man-made climate change for the intensity of the heat.
“I can’t think of a single other event where we could say, ‘The intensity of this event wouldn’t have been at this level without climate change,'” said Hoffman.