Snow Grinch? El Niño robs Canada’s white Christmas

White or green Christmas? For much of the country the answer will be quite simple this year

As we enter into the final week before Christmas, the official countdown is on. All eyes are on the skies, as well, as Canadians wonder if this will be a white or green Christmas this year. The chances to be coated in white are simply put...not good.

We'll start with what the typical odds are, according to historical data provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

Historical white Christmas

Some big upsets are in order across the country, judging from these high historical odds because this is what we're currently working with in terms of snow on the ground just a week before Christmas:

Current snow on the ground.jpg

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Keep in mind, we've never had a Christmas morning with no snow on the ground for all of the provincial capitals at the same time! Could this be a first? It's certainly not out of the question.


Chance of a white Christmas west.jpg

The closer to the 49th parallel you reside, the lower your odds are across the west. Although a cooler trough is expected to move in just before Christmas for the B.C. South Coast, you'll need at least a couple hundred metres of elevation if you want to see some snow across Metro Vancouver.

Alberta, your odds improve as you press towards Edmonton and north, but Edmonton is riding on a buzzer beater of a low to develop a couple of days before Christmas, but confidence is low.

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As for the eastern Prairies, where odds are typically more than 90%. If any city is likely to do it, watch for Winnipeg to pull off a current upset. We'll have to monitor and see if a 'Medium' chance is warranted for the days ahead, as some computer models spin up a low-pressure system.

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Pretty dismal odds of a White Christmas are also present across the east, unless of course, you reside in Timmins, Ont., or Labrador City.

White Christmas chance.jpg

Ottawa is an interesting case, as you'll pick up a few centimetres of snow Monday night, but that would have to last an entire week.

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Although the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is set to pick up a few centimetres of snow Monday night, you run into the same problem as Ottawa. We have too many days above freezing for that snow to be rationed until Christmas.

As for Atlantic Canada, we'll be watching a late-week low that could bring some accumulating snow to Charlottetown, P.E.I., but that is not set in stone.

We'll continue to re-evaluate these odds over the next few days, as a couple of models do want to develop a low-pressure system off Atlantic Canada a couple of days before Christmas.

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