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Blizzard tears off roof in Rankin Inlet, power outage in Arviat

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Rankin Inlet was one of several Kivalliq communities in Nunavut hit by a blizzard today. (Submitted by Luke Webb - Photo credit)

Rankin Inlet was one of several Kivalliq communities in Nunavut hit by a blizzard today. (Submitted by Luke Webb – Photo credit)

Several hamlets in Nunavut were hit by strong winds that ripped off a roof in one community and knocked out power in another.

Communities in the Kivalliq region were hardest hit by the snowstorm, with offices and schools closed throughout the region.

According to Environment Canada, wind gusts of 100 kilometres were recorded in Arviat and Rankin Inlet on Wednesday.

Luke Webb, a security guard with the Rankin Inlet RCMP detachment, had to head out to work on Wednesday despite a snowstorm.

He says he ran through 100-kilometer-high winds.

“It propels you forward, and then you take about five steps forward, and suddenly you're on your knees,” Webb said.

Rankin Inlet resident Luke Webb took this photo on Wednesday, November 22, 2023, during a snowstorm on his way to work.  Rankin Inlet resident Luke Webb took this photo on Wednesday, November 22, 2023, during a snowstorm on his way to work.

Rankin Inlet resident Luke Webb took this photo on Wednesday, November 22, 2023, during a snowstorm on his way to work.

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

Although he has experienced many snowstorms in the seven years he has lived in the community, Webb said he has never experienced anything like this one.

“I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a stronger snowstorm,” he said.

He said he also noticed a piece of roof blown off a building near the community's middle school, but could not say exactly where it came from.

“I can’t see the school from above, but it looks like it has fallen away. [the middle school],” he said.

“It just looked like the roof had fallen off in one big piece.”

Flights were cancelled throughout the region.

What appears to be part of a roof lies on the ground near Rankin Inlet Middle School during a snowstorm on Wednesday, November 22, 2023. What appears to be part of a roof lies on the ground near Rankin Inlet Middle School during a snowstorm on Wednesday, November 22, 2023.

What appears to be part of a roof lies on the ground near Rankin Inlet Middle School during a snowstorm on Wednesday, November 22, 2023.

What appears to be part of a roof lies on the ground near Rankin Inlet Middle School during a snowstorm on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023. (Submitted by Luke Webb)

The wind knocked out power to customers in nearby Arviat overnight, leaving many without heat.

According to Qulliq Energy Corporation (QEC), a few customers in Arviat, between the airport and downtown, have been without power since about 1 p.m. ET. QEC did not know the exact number of residents affected, but estimated about 15 to 20. The company said a damaged power line was to blame, but it was not safe for workers to repair the problem until the snowstorm subsides.

“Line crews are standing by and monitoring weather conditions to resume line work once conditions improve,” a QEC spokesperson said in an email. “Plant operators are keeping generators and feeders running and providing power to the majority of customers.”

According to QEC, customers in Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove also experienced temporary outages.

Lorraine Mala, who lives in Arviat, said she was without power from 7 p.m. Tuesday to 3 a.m. Wednesday.

In a statement, QEC said crews worked throughout the night to restore power but were unable to access power lines due to strong winds.