Whitehorse, Yukon

Whitehorse is the capital city of the Yukon. It is located in the south-central part of the Yukon about 200 kilometers north of the British Columbia border. It is located at 60B 43' North of the equator and has an elevation of 640 meters above sea level. This means that because of its northern location, and a variety of other factors, it is a generally cold area.

Explorers of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s knew Whitehorse as a resting place during their long battle up the Yukon River in search of the Klondike. Due to a growing economy, Whitehorse is now a fairly large city of about 24 000 people, with an economy centering on transportation, communication, mining and government offices. 

Located on a flat area next to the Yukon River, and surrounded by distant mountains Whitehorse is a very scenic area to live or to visit. Located in the subarctic zone the area is host to very little vegetation. However, you will find shrubs and scattered coniferous trees particularly in valleys and sheltered areas mixed with tundra vegetation. The region has many lakes, swamps and bogs that are filled with peat mosses.

Climate data for Whitehorse, Yukon

The following data and Climagraph represent the average temperature and precipitation of Whitehorse, Yukon over the last twenty-five years.

Months

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

July

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec.

Prec(mm)

16.9

11.9

12.1

8.3

14.4

31.2

38.5

39.3

35.2

23

18.9

18.9

Temp (C)

-18.7

-13.1

-7.1

0.3

6.6

1.6

14

12.3

7.3

0.7

-10

-15.9

Data gathered from Environment Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whitehorse experiences a Continental Climate.  This means that there is a large range between the minimum and maximum monthly temperatures and that it sees little precipitation. Whitehorse’s temperature range is approximately 33CE while the annual precipitation is around 270 millimeters, a very small amount which mostly occurs during the summer months.

Factors affecting the climate of Whitehorse:

Temperature:

Latitude: Whitehorse has a latitude of 60 B 43' N. This means that Whitehorse is located far into the northern hemisphere. The suns rays do not hit very direct to the earths surface here as it would nearer to the equator. This means that latitude influences Whitehorse by making it cooler.

Nearness to Water: Whitehorse is not located very near to the ocean. This means that the ocean has little to do with Whitehorse’s climate. Since land cools down and heats up quicker than water, the wind that effects Whitehorse is very cold because it travels over land more then it do water.

Air Masses: In the winter, Whitehorse is affected mainly by the Continental Arctic air mass that brings extreme cold conditions from the frozen Arctic. In summer the Maritime Polar and Maritime Arctic, generally influence the temperature bringing milder conditions.

Precipitation:

Latitude: Whitehorse is located far into the northern hemisphere. This generally creates cold conditions that give precipitation in the form of snow for about five or more months of the year.

Nearness to Water: Whitehorse isn’t located near any major bodies of water. However, the prevailing winds come from the west that travel over the Pacific Ocean, but since Whitehorse is located inland and is east of a large mountain range. The moisture in the air that was gathered from the Pacific Ocean is mostly already fallen by the time it reaches Whitehorse. This means that because of Whitehorse’s location, it receives little precipitation.

Air Masses: Whitehorse is affected by many air masses. These air masses are dragged over kilometers of land and mountains, causing them to be very dry. This helps contribute to Whitehorse’s dry climate.

Landforms and Altitude: Whitehorse has an elevation of 640 meters about sea level. This is a very high altitude and helps create Whitehorse’s cold climate. Just to the west of Whitehorse is a mountain range that is in the path of the prevailing winds that affect the city, this causes the clouds traveling towards Whitehorse to dump most of its precipitation on its high altitudes because of the thinner air, making the moisture too heavy for the clouds to contain. This factor helps contribute to Whitehorse’s dry climate.

This report was completed by Michael Newhook.