Up there.

How Cold Is It?

How Cold Is It? Is It Always Dark?

I know these are the questions inquiring minds are asking.

It is actually not very cold for the most part, although we have had our moments up here. The worst so far has been about -38 C (for reference, -40 is the same on both temperature scales) with wind chill. Absolute temperature was probably about -30 C. I could hear a weatherman's voice from my youth, "At this temperature, exposed skin freezes in 10 seconds!"

Mostly when it's been cold I've thought, "finally!" Some weather worthy of Iqaluit's reputation. All in all, I'm feeling pretty self-satisfied at my hardiness. I am not finding it uncomfortably cold in the least, and I usually walk outside thinking how wonderful the air feels in my lungs. Part of it is the dryness. OK, western Canadians routinely look eastern Canadians in the eye and say, "But it's a dry cold." And eastern Canadians look back and wonder if they're being made fun of. Which of course they are.

But there is something in this. Iqaluit is dry like Saskatchewanians have never imagined. It is a desert up here. The crunchiness of the snow, and the range of hollow-ish noises your boots make as you walk on top of snow drifts without making a dent are unlike any snow I've ever experienced. There is, as near as I can tell, absolutely zero humidity most of the time.

Part Two of the question: No, It Is Not Always Dark. Iqaluit is quite a bit south of the Arctic Circle, so it does not experience 24-hour darkness. As I write today, December 7, just 14 days from the shortest day of the year, it was light from about 8:00am to 2:30pm. Even better, the light here in winter is spectacular. The sun is always low in the sky, so the "magic hour" that photographers wait for is pretty long. When the sun is shining, I gape at the landscape. I don't think I have seen anything as beautiful as Frobisher Bay in winter.

And when it is dark, there is often a bonus: Northern Lights. I've seen them a few times. They are not the best I've seen - Saskatchewan and New Zealand have given me greater shows so far - but they are so close to the horizon here, it seems like they're about to descend and touch you.

A few people here have said that I am here at the best time of year. I'm inclined to agree with them.

Frob Bay cold small