My family made the move back to the north in 1998. It was fall when we arrived. The winter snows began to fall in September, just as they did in my earlier treks to the north in the early 1980’s.
Because my work inevitably takes me out on the land, and this is totally by design btw, the weather plays perhaps a bigger role in my life than that of say, a underground coal miner or a lab-coat besmocked lab technician and so I have been forced by circumstance to pay close attention to it.
The weather patterns I’ve observed over the last 40 years in the north run sort of like this:
Beginning my survey around early august whynot, i’ll notice the sky turn a different lighter hue of blue. It’s difficult to describe but it’s a sudden realization that it’s fall. There’s a crispness in the air that wasn’t there in july. A frost is likely overnight around this time, often corresponding with the first full moon of the month.
Throughout September some leaves begin to turn and gradually the country starts to blaze aflame with color. It’s a special treat to see some mountains turn a brilliant red!
Then the snows begin in the higher altitudes and work their way down the mountainslopes to the lower altitudes until in late September, you find yourself standing there somewhere stupidly in the sloppy wet stuff. Of course it melts away and half of October it’s tempting to relax your guard but this is a good time to shore up your supply of firewood unless you truly enjoy wading around in snow up to your nipples to get it later.
Then come the winds. Usually they pick up and can get quite severe in the fall as the weather transitions.
Throughout November/December you can expect a gradual decline in the temperature. I like to watch the averages to get an idea of how freakishly off we actually are. Normally the temp is quite close to the normal making the weatherman’s job a piece of cherry pie a la mode.
Not a bad career choice it would seem. So what if you’re wrong now and then? It’s not like you’re betting the family abbatoir on it.
This brings us through the new year and I think every early January I’ve resided here has seen much lower Temps. As my dear Gramma used to say, “the days get longer and the winter gets stronger”. I think that’s because the earth is like a ginormeous heat sink so the warmth stored up in summer benefits us for a little but we pay that bill in spring when, despite the loooong days, warmth is elusive.
Mid January we always get a blast of ridiculous warmth and it’s nice to take a white-man dog team and go roaring around in the mountains in your tee shirt! This lasts normally 2 weeks and then we’re plunged into the coldest Temps of the winter. Here in Teslin I’d count on low to mid thirties for most of the month, sometimes warming to perhaps 20 below. Here is when we learn “who has been swimming naked” with regards to having a good supply of heating fuel on hand.
The upside of the cold is the clear skies and lengthening days we exprience in February and March. Normally the winds are calm as well. A beautiful time of the year to be in the yukon but don’t go around talkin’ about it!
Next comes the sloppy, sometimes rainy, sodden, windy days of April. Not my favorite time but we power through it. As a fuelwood seller, this is the time for me to make my hay, if you will, replenishing all those woodsheds for those prosperous enough and wise enough to make their preparations for the fall…. already in spring!
June is often a bit of a disappointment in terms of the weather, cool, rainy and overcast, at least in this locale. We’re only a couple hundred miles from the ocean and with the prevailing westerlies, it’s inevitable we’re going to see some clouds but slowly the shift is made as the days lengthen to perpetual daylight and the great heatsink begind to absorb the warmth of the sun. Which brings us to july, normally a time of scattered showers, intense, hot days and ever increasing pike aggressivity!
What changes have I seen in my kinda 40 years in the north? Nothing much to crow about, certainly nothing that alarms or terrifies this old boy, but what do I know, not being a scientist and all?