Historic hot spells in Churchill, Polar Bear Capital of the World, in late June/early July

Amid reports of a late June heat wave in Europe this year, I thought I would check out the temperature in Churchill, Manitoba – where sea ice off the coast has been rather slow to melt this year with no reports yet of polar bears onshore. It turns out that Churchill has fairly often seen very hot weather (around 900F/300C) for a few days at this time of year but 2019 has certainly not been one of them. Temperatures in Churchill on 28 June this year were about 40 degress F below previous highs (more than 15 degrees C) according to online Environment Canada weather comparison reports that go back to 1943 (although their records for Churchill go back to 1929).

Polar bear on ice_SARA registry webpage_gov Can

High for 28 June 2019: 44.4 F/7.1 C

Hottest year, late June: 90.0 F/32.2 C on 29 June 1984 [also 87.8 F/30.6 C on 26 June 1967]

Hottest year, early July:  93.0 F/33.9 C on 4 July, 1975 [also 91.0 F/32.8 C on 3 July 1976]

Bottom line: It is appropriate to scoff at anyone who claims it never got hot in the Arctic before sea ice declined markedly around the turn of the 21st century. For Churchill (self-proclaimed Polar Bear Capital of the World), there are plenty of records of brief spells of hot weather in late spring/early summer (as well as in other months) that go back to the decades when sea ice conditions were supposedly ideal for polar bears.

Hot spells at Churchill rarely last more than a day or two, even in recent years. In describing a record-breaking warm event on 12 June 2018 (via CBC):

“A heat warning was in effect Monday when Churchill, also known as the “polar bear capital of the world,” became the hottest area in Canada and hit a high of 32.2 C.

“[It] shattered the old record of 24.4 C, which was set in 1950,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Brad Vrolijk.

“Definitely pretty rare for that community.… It’s a significant margin to break a record by.”

The northern Manitoba tourism hotspot reached 29.7 C on Sunday, also amid a heat warning. That broke a previous record for June 10 of 25.6 C set in 1941, Vrolijk said.

Environment Canada has weather records in Churchill going back to 1929. The average highs for June 10 and June 11 in Churchill are 10 C and 10.3 C, respectively.

Often when things heat up in the town, a cool sea breeze sweeps off Hudson Bay and cools things down. But on Monday, a continuous, southerly wind blew up from the Prairies, and the warmth was trapped over Churchill due to the fact that half of Hudson Bay is still frozen over, Vrolijk said.

But just as soon as the heat wave moved in, temperatures dropped to 6 C overnight Monday and into Tuesday morning thanks to a blast of the cool sea air Churchill residents are more accustomed to, said Vrolijk.

Here is the temperature at 11 pm on 28 June and the 7-Day forecast for 29 June-4 July 2019 (in degrees F) from Environment Canada. The high for 28 June was 44.4F and the low was 36.9F:

Churchill weather conditions and 7 day forecast at 28 June 2019 11 pm EC

Historical “Averages and Extremes” reported show it was 80.1 F in 1968 on June 28:

Churchill weather averages and extremes 2019 June 28 EC vs 1968 yesterday temp is the 27th

During the 5 days prior to the 28th, records show it was 81.0 F in 1968 on June 27 (a two day hot spell):

Churchill weather averages and extremes 2019 June 27 EC vs. 1968 yesterday temp is the 27th

And it was 87.1 F in 1967 on June 26:

Churchill weather averages and extremes 2019 June 26 EC vs. 1967 yesterday temp is the 27th

And 86.0 F in 1967 on June 25 (a two-day hot spell):

Churchill weather averages and extremes 2019 June 25 EC vs. 1998 yesterday temp is the 27th

And 88.0 F in 1974 on June 24:

Churchill weather averages and extremes 2019 June 24 EC vs. 1974 yesterday temp is the 27th 2019

And 82.9 F in 1974 on June 23:

Churchill weather averages and extremes 2019 June 23 EC vs. 1974 yesterday temp is the 27th 2019

In the 6 days following the 28th, records show it was 90.0 F/32.2 C in 1984 on June 29:

Churchill weather averages and extremes 2019 June 29 EC yesterday temp is the 28th

And it was 89.4 F/31.9 C in 1984 on June 30 (a two day hot spell):

Churchill weather averages and extremes 2019 June 30 EC vs. 1984 yesterday temp is the 27th 2019

It was 88.0 F in 1976 on July 1:

Churchill weather averages and extremes 2019 July 1 EC vs. 1976 yesterday temp is the 27th 2019

And 89.1 F in 1976 on July 2:

Churchill weather averages and extremes 2019 July 2 EC vs. 1976 yesterday temp is the 27th 2019

And it was still hot the next day: 91.0 F in 1976 on July 3 (so, a rare three day hot spell):

Churchill weather averages and extremes 2019 July 3 EC vs. 1976 yesterday temp is the 27th 2019

Lastly, it was a whopping 93.0 F/33.9 C in 1975 on July 4:

Churchill weather averages and extremes 2019 July 4 EC yesterday temp is the 28th

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