View Full Version : The Sweltering Arctic

07-15-2005, 11:41 PM
The Sweltering Arctic
Kuujjuaraapik suffers under 37°C heat


July 15, 2005

If you wanted to find someone in Kuujjuaraapik earlier this week, the best place to look was along the shores of the Great Whale River.

As two sea-doos bounced around in the cool water, the river was an ideal place for residents of this Nunavik community to escape from the oppressive heat.

“Half the community is there, I’ve never seen so many people in the water before,” said one woman who confessed to going to work wearing a wet swimsuit under her clothes to keep cool.

Temperatures in this Eastern Hudson Bay community hit 36.6 C on Monday, making Kuujjuaraapik the hottest place in Quebec and breaking the previous record of 29.4 C, set in 1969.

But Tuesday was even hotter. The day’s high climbed to 37 C, breaking the previous record high of 28.3 C set in 1998.

These temperatures were much higher than the normal temperature range of around 15 C.

At the height of the heat wave on Tuesday, an employee at the community’s health and social services clinic said “everything here has stopped.” The telephone didn’t ring and those with appointments were staying home or heading to the beach.

At home, Kuujjuaraapik’s residents coped with the heat by keeping windows shut and blinds down. Sleeping on damp sheets was another strategy — but many still tossed and turned all Monday night.

The good news is that, despite the heat, the health clinic was quiet and police had little activity: closure of the community’s two bars due to a death the previous weekend helped keep the peace and prevent dehydration.

Environment Canada meteorologist René Héroux said Kuujjuaraapik’s heat wave was extremely unusual. Héroux said the spike in temperatures were caused by a layer of hot air in the upper atmosphere, which was pushed north from the United States.

“It was very unusual, and will it happen again? Well, we can certainly say that it’s another indication climate change is no joke,” Héroux said.

Temperatures in Kuujjuaq also were in the high 20s this week, above normal values.

07-16-2005, 11:22 AM
Holy crap, not what I wanted to hear.