Blizzard shuts down Nunavut's Kivalliq region, cuts power in Arviat

High winds gust in Kivalliq region as communities close down

Several Nunavut hamlets have been hit by high winds, which blew off a roof in one community and cut power in another.

Communities in the Kivalliq region were hit the hardest by the blizzard, with offices and schools closed across the region. The Government of Nunavut also closed offices in Kimmirut and Pangnirtung due to bad weather.

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Winds gusted to 100 kilometres in Arviat and Rankin Inlet on Wednesday, according to Environment Canada.

Luke Webb, a guard at the Rankin Inlet RCMP detachment, had to head out in the blizzard to get to work Wednesday.

He says he walked through 100-kilometre winds.

"It pushes you forward and then you take, like, five steps forward and then next thing you know you're on your knees," Webb said.

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Nunavut blizzard/Submitted by Luke Webb via CBC

Rankin Inlet resident Luke Webb took this photo on his walk to work during a blizzard on Wednesday, November 22, 2023. (Submitted by Luke Webb)

Although he's experienced many blizzards over his seven years living in the community, Webb said he hasn't experienced anything like this one.

"I don't think I've been in a windier blizzard than this," he said.

He said he also noticed a piece of roofing had been blown off a building near the community's middle school, but couldn't quite tell exactly where it had come from.

"I can't see the school from above, but it looks like it came off [the middle school]," he said.

"It just looked like the roof came off all in one big sheet."

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Flights were cancelled across the region.

The wind knocked out power overnight for customers in nearby Arviat, leaving many with no heat.

Nunavut blizzard/Submitted by Luke Webb 3

What appears to be part of a roof lies on the ground near Rankin Inlet's middle school during a blizzard on Wednesday, November 22, 2023. (Submitted by Luke Webb )

According to the Qulliq Energy Corporation (QEC), as of approximately 1 p.m. ET, a small number of customers in Arviat were without power between the airport and the centre of town. QEC did not know the exact number of residents affected but estimated about 15 to 20. The corporation said a damaged power line is to blame but that repairing the issue is unsafe for crews until the blizzard subsides.

"Line crews are standing by and monitoring weather conditions in order to resume line work as soon as weather conditions improve," a QEC spokesperson said in an email. "Plant operators are keeping generators and feeders running and supplying power to the majority of customers."

Customers in Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove have also seen temporary outages, according to the QEC.

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Lorraine Mala, who lives in Arviat, said she did not have power from 7 p.m. Tuesday until 3 a.m. Wednesday.

In a statement, QEC said crew members worked throughout the night to restore power, but the strong winds prevented them from getting to the power lines.

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Thumbnail courtesy of Luke Webb via CBC.

The story was originally written by Emma Tranter and published for CBC News.