Snow on Christmas Day? Only a few guarantees in Canada

Dr. Doug Gillham


Surprisingly, for over half of Canada’s population, we’re not able to give a definitive answer about who will see snow this Christmas — even though it is just over a week away.


For most places where a white Christmas is expected, we can guarantee another white Christmas this year. That includes Nunavut, the Northwest Territories & Yukon, including Whitehorse, Yellowknife, and Iqaluit. A white Christmas is also expected across most of the interior of central and northern B.C., central and northern Alberta (including Edmonton and Fort McMurray), central and northern Saskatchewan (including Saskatoon), most of Manitoba, most of northern Ontario (including Timmins) and the lake effect snow belt regions of central Ontario (including Muskoka), central and northern Quebec and Labrador.


Historically, the south coast of B.C. has the lowest chance of seeing a white Christmas and that looks to be the case again this year. However, there will be an abundance of alpine snow during the next week, which is finally some good news for local ski areas. At this point, it looks unlikely that Vancouver or Victoria will have snow for Christmas, but one shouldn’t have to drive too far into the mountains to find snow. Also, we will continue to monitor storm tracks and temperatures later this week to see if snow levels can drop closer to sea level. The pattern immediately before Christmas hints at the potential for a Christmas miracle so we will continue to monitor this region.


While the past ten days have been frigid, the snow cover is rather thin across parts of the region. This week will bring much milder weather with many places rising above freezing for a few days and little-to-no additional snow is expected between now and Christmas. Therefore, if you currently have just a few centimetres or less on the ground across southern parts of the region, you are at risk to lose your snow before Christmas.

Regina and Winnipeg look to have more than enough snow to hold onto a white Christmas. However, while Calgary has more snow on the ground, there is a higher risk for this snow to melt with temperatures rising well above freezing this week.


At this point, a white Christmas looks unlikely for most of the region (outside of the lake effect snow belt areas), including Windsor, Toronto, Hamilton, and Niagara. This region will see some very cold weather and some snow during the middle of this week, but much milder weather is on the way for the weekend and early next week. It is still possible that the cold weather holds on longer than expected or that we get a pre-Christmas surprise, but hope for a white Christmas is fading across this region. Of course, a milder pattern before Christmas is great news for travel and for last-minute shopping.


The Ottawa area finally has a solid snow cover with some additional snow expected this week. However, we will have to closely monitor temperatures early next week. If temperatures overachieve, then the snow is at risk to melt by Christmas. Also, the snow depth decreases to the south and east and areas towards the St. Lawrence have a higher risk of losing their snow before the 25th. The Montreal area currently has bare ground but with some potential to pick-up a few centimetres this week. However, it may not be enough to survive milder weather early next week.


Most of this region (except for parts of northern New Brunswick, western Newfoundland and Labrador) has little-to-no snow on the ground as of the start of this week after record warmth and heavy rain over the weekend. However, a more wintry pattern is expected this week and several systems will impact the region between now and Christmas. A white vs. green Christmas will come down to the exact storm track of systems late this week and into early next week.

Source: Weather Network

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