Where did December go? Canada's winter wonderland turned upside down

As we conclude the end of December and look towards a new year, we take review the final month of 2023 and its numerous weather oddities and records across Canada

It was anything but a typical December across Canada, with fluctuating temperatures, record warmth and disconcerting levels of snow.

Here’s what you need to know.

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  • Ten million square kilometres of Canada experienced above-normal temperatures.

  • Some regions experienced values that were more than 10 degrees above normal, and saw the warmest December temperatures on record.

  • Victoria, Comox and Vancouver, B.C., recorded the warmest mean December temperatures on record. Vancouver's peaked at more than 7°C.

  • The Prairies recorded the warmest December on record for Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray and Medicine Hat, Alta.; Kindersley, Saskatoon, Swift Current and Yorkton, Sask.; as well as Churchill, and The Pas, Man.

Take a look at the sharp contrast between December 2022 and December 2023 daytime highs.


Edmonton didn’t spend a single second above the freezing mark last December –– this year, 25 days have been above that benchmark.

Saskatoon is equally as jarring, with the coldest temperatures this year warmer than the mildest mild days experienced last December.

  • Ontario faced an incredibly mild December, with many locations having their second warmest December on record: Hamilton, London, Toronto, Sault Ste. Marie and Welland.

  • Northwestern Ontario was the most anomalous with Kenora recording the mildest December by 3°C.

  • Montreal recorded the third-warmest December on record.

  • The only warmer December across southern Ontario also occurred during the very strong El Niño of 2015.

  • Atlantic Canada had a mild December, too, with numerous stations reporting the top-10 warmest Decembers. Several stations in New Brunswick recorded their top-5 warmest December.

  • Northern Canada recorded a mild December, as well, with Hay River, N.W.T, documenting the second-mildest December, along with Yellowknife.


National precipitation extremes

  • Kamloops, B.C., saw 1.4 cm of snow (second least snowiest December).

  • The Pas had the driest December on record, with just 0.6 mm of precipitation recorded for the entire month.

  • Hamilton saw the 2nd least snowiest December on record with just 3.8 cm of snowfall

  • Sixth-rainiest December on record for Toronto airport (YYZ) with more than 69 mm of rain. Ottawa saw its fourth-rainiest December on record with 73.3 mm of rainfall.

  • Rainfall was even more anomalous in Quebec, with Montreal recording the second-wettest December on record.

  • Gaspé, Que., recorded its least snowiest December on record.

  • St. John’s, N.L., airport (1942-2023) saw its driest December on record, documenting 51 mm of precipitation.


Looking ahead

  • As we push into January, there are finally some signs of colder temperatures across the Prairies –– likely the coldest values so far this season.

  • Colder air will also ooze across British Columbia.

  • Stubborn warmth, relative to normal, will continue to persist across Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

WATCH: El Niño keeps Canada on the warm side of winter