Yukon weather is most famous for its unique and magnificent shimmering displays of aurora borealis more commonly known as "Yukon Northern Lights".
Anyone who has dared to spend a week or two of vacation time in Yukon will tell you of a most memorable experience!
Even words like exceptional and breathtaking fail to communicate the vivid the full impact of the memories.
The aurora phenomenon is caused by "solar winds" hitting the Earth's upper atmosphere, and is most often noticeable in winter.
The "solar wind" is nothing less than a sheer deluge of protons and electrons, traveling at nearly a million miles per hour, and colliding with molecules of gases in the Earth's upper atmosphere.
This "deluge" is ejected from the Sun by occasional gigantic nuclear explosions that occur in its own upper atmosphere.
Of course, Yukon weather and climate also have more "earthly" characteristics!
Yukon sits in the Northern Cordillera Climate region of Canada, a rugged land of mountains and plateaus, rising some 1200 to 1800 meters above sea level.
Its northernmost tip even lies within the Arctic Circle. In spite of this, it is not necessarily always colder than the rest of the Yukon Territory, as you will see shortly.
The St. Elias Mountains, on the west coast, prevent the maritime influence of the Pacific Ocean from modifying Yukon's climate.
Consequently, the cold polar air dome encompasses the Yukon territory almost unhindered throughout the year. Surprisingly, winter temperatures are not as cold as they could be all over. The southwestern portion is noticeably milder than the interior.
In winter, days are very short, with not much effective sunshine available.
January daily average temperatures stand at -17.7C in Whitehorse, and drop northward to -22C at Burwash, -26.7C at Dawson and a bone chilling -31.1 at Old Crow!
Summers, though short, are pleasantly warm in comparison.
The long days and high sun result in July daily average temperatures of 14.1C in Whitehorse, 12.8C at Burwash, 15.6C at Dawson, and 14.6C at Old Crow. Oddly, it's warmer north than south!
Yukon's climate and weather are indeed full of surprises!
Note that weather parameter measurements are only available from weather stations located in valleys. Therefore, values of temperature and precipitation are not necessarily representative of higher elevations.
The Yukon territory normally receives between 250 and 450 millimeters of precipitation in a year. July and August are the rainiest. In winter, some 100 to 200cm of snow will fall. Again, these values come from valley weather stations. More snow than this most certainly fall on higher elevations.
All in all, the Yukon weather and climate are derived from high latitude, mountainous terrain, very short winter days, and very long summer days. The Cordillera Climate in the Yukon Territory is noticeably different from that of British Columbia further south!
Stay tuned, and keep a sharp weather watch!