Nunavut’s weather conditions usually fall somewhere between cold and colder, but some parts of this vast territory are chillier than others. Few places on Earth endure a more frigid climate than the Ellesmere Island community of Grise Fiord, whose name appropriately means ‘place that never thaws.’ Grise Fiord spends its winters in constant darkness accompanied by temperatures plummeting as low as -50° - in both Celsius and Fahrenheit. Although Grise Fiord enjoys constant sunshine for about four months every year, its average summer temperatures rarely rise above 41°F.
The western Nunavut community of Kugluktuk near the Northwest Territories border, on the other hand, is Nunavut’s hot spot. Kugluktuk’s summer temperatures soar as high as 86°F, but its winter temperatures can still be nearly as cold as those in the High Arctic.
Nunavut’s polar desert environment, on the other hand, produces little precipitation, several days without a cloud in the sky, and low humidity which makes Nunavut’s frigidly cold winter temperatures feel slightly more bearable. Snow sticks around well into June and ocean waters do not entirely break up until mid-July.
Best Time to Visit Nunavut
Summer is both Nunavut’s shortest and busiest season, when temperatures are at their highest and the sun remains in the sky for several months. However, even high season visitors should bring warm clothing as Nunavut summers are rarely warmer than southern North American or European springs and falls. Breathable rain gear is highly recommended for summer seashore visitors, and hikers should pack footwear with strong ankle support to trek through Nunavut’s rocky trails.
Floe edge excursions are Nunavut’s main spring attraction during the season when frozen ice sheets meet melting open water. Between March and May, spotting icebergs and wildlife from the safety of floe edges is Nunavut’s most popular tourism attraction. However, springtime in Nunavut is comparable to European and southern North American winters, so visitors should dress in their warmest winter gear.
Warm hats, mittens, down parkas, and multiple layers are mandatory during Nunavut’s frigid winters. Good quality sunglasses and sunscreen are recommended at all times of year for protection against Nunavut’s constant summer sunshine and thin air.