Weather & Climate
Nunavut is an enormous territory, so the weather varies widely from place to place.
First time visitors to Nunavut should know that it does not have a temperate climate. This is the Arctic, which is much colder on average than most of the populated regions of the world.
Temperatures vary widely by community. The average temperature in Kugluktuk is the warmest in Nunavut, sometimes rising to 30°C in the summer and ranging from -15°C to -40°C in the winter. The coldest community in Nunavut is Grise Fiord, where summer temperatures can sometimes rise above freezing to 5°C and winter temperatures frequently drop to -50°C. Spring temperatures are more consistent throughout the territory, with average daytime highs between -20°C and -10°C. The cool days of spring in Nunavut have plenty of sunshine. From late March to the end of May, the sunlight reflected off the snow and ice can cause severe sunburn, so even though it may feel cold, using sunscreen lotion is advisable.
Average Temperature of Nunavut Communities (in degrees Celsius)
In winter, visitors should be prepared for cold temperatures and short days. On the shortest day in the Nunavut capital of Iqaluit, the sun rises and sets within four hours. The further north you go, the shorter the winter days get. Communities north of the Arctic Circle don't see the sun at all for stretches at a time, although the sky may lighten a bit on the southern horizon at midday. Conversely, at the summer solstice, the sun shines for 21 hours in Iqaluit with a few hours of beautiful twilight around midnight. The further north you go above the Arctic Circle, the greater number of days that have complete 24-hour sunshine. The Midnight Sun shines brightly over Nunavut. Depending on the community, the sun never completely sets beneath the horizon for up to four months of the year.
|Community||24 Hours of Sunshine|
|Grise Fiord||April 22 to August 20|
|Resolute||April 29 to August 13|
|Pond Inlet||May 5 to August 7|
|Arctic Bay||May 6 to August 6|
|Clyde River||May 13 to August 1|
|Taloyoak||May 17 to July 27|
|Igloolik||May 18 to July 26|
|Cambridge Bay||May 20 to July 23|
|Hall Beach||May 21 to July 22|
|Kugaaruk||May 21 to July 22|
|Gjoa Haven||May 22 to July 21|
|Kugluktuk||May 27 to July 17|
|Qikiqtarjuaq||May 29 to July 15|
|Repulse Bay||June 4 to July 9|
|Pangnirtung||June 8 to July 4|
Source: Environment Canada
To learn the hours of daylight, sunrise and sunset, on any given day in a Nunavut community, check the following website.
Winds and Precipitation
The low humidity in Nunavut helps reduce the impact of the cold, making a -20°C day feel more like -5°C in southern Canada. Winds, however, can cause frostbite, so it is wise to have a parka with fur around its hood for wintertime visits. Many communities in Nunavut have steady average winds of 15-20 kph (9-12 mph) daily. Some communities, such as Pangnirtung, are notorious for occasional extreme winds that can gust to 100 kph (62 mph). Precipitation in Nunavut tends to fall sideways, as it is almost always accompanied by winds of 30-60 kph (19-37 mph). The windchill factor is often more significant than the actual air temperature.
As most of the Arctic is a polar desert, long stretches of cloudless days without precipitation are common. Total annual precipitation in the capital, Iqaluit, converted to water is 43 centimetres (17 in.), whereas the capital of Canada, Ottawa, gets more than twice this amount. In Nunavut, cool temperatures generally mean that snow cover doesn't finish melting until June and the sea ice doesn't finish breaking up and melting away until the middle of July. The little rainfall that Nunavut gets usually falls from July to early September.
To find the weather forecast for any community of Nunavut, check the Environment Canada website.