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Normal fall not so normal

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Sep 06/02) - Campers, you're on notice.

The weather over the next couple days "shouldn't be so bad, so get out this weekend not the next," advises Yvonne Bilan-Wallace, meteorologist with the Arctic Weather Centre in Edmonton.

NNSL photo

It's Wayne Holzer's first time up North. The Alberta native, currently camped out at Fred Henne Park, says he doesn't mind the cool weather. - Mike W. Bryant/NNSL photo

After a miserable, cool, damp summer during which Yellowknifers faced the eighth-coldest August on record, the weather finally appears to be returning to normal, says Bilan-Wallace.

In August, Yellowknife only received 245 hours of sunshine, 24 per cent less than the normal 284 for the month.

The problem is the seasonal averages during fall have been so high the last few years this one may seem cool in comparison.

Meteorological data suggests it'll be more towards normal values, says Bilan-Wallace.

"Not exceptional cold, but definitely not something like, 'Wow, what a beautiful fall.'"

The weather should be good enough for one last comfortable camping trip this weekend -- with temperatures in the mid-teens and no rain forecast -- but our good fortune will likely start running out by the end of the weekend with more cloudy, fall-like weather on the way, says Bilan-Wallace.

Fred Henne Park contractor Vincent Dixon says despite the bad weather, he thinks summer traffic may have actually increased from last year.

"There's still lots of tourists -- one from China, a fellow from Spain, lots of Americans. The increase could be attributed to 9/11," says Dixon.

He believes Canada's overall safe image has made coming here attractive to tourists. The park has been renting an average 64 campsites a night since opening May 15. The Labour Day weekend's average was even higher at 70 sites.

"People were trying to take advantage of the last weekend of summer," Dixon surmises. The park closes Sept. 15.

Camper Wayne Holzer, from Lethbridge, Alta., says he doesn't mind the cold.

"It's the first time I've seen the sun since four days ago in Grande Prairie," says Holzer.