Icy temperatures and heavy snowfall are in the forecast for many Canadians on Christmas Eve, setting the stage for a wintry Christmas across much of the country on Monday.
It’ll be a white Christmas for many in Eastern Canada, as a Texan low-pressure system intensifies and races northward “at the speed of Rudolph,” according to a special weather statement issued by Environment Canada. Widespread weather alerts have been issued across southern Ontario Sunday, with the City of Toronto and the regions of Halton and Peel under snowfall warnings.
“For those dreaming of a white Christmas, you will get your wish,” Environment Canada’s snowfall warning for Toronto reads. The Greater Toronto Area can expect the storm to move in Sunday afternoon, bringing 15 to 20 cm of snow to the region. Coupled with a heavy lake-effect snow band off of Lake Ontario, Environment Canada forecasts “challenging” travel conditions due to blowing snow.
For Atlantic Canada, a blizzard warning, along with winter storm and wind warnings, have been issued for the entire province of New Brunswick and parts of Prince Edward Island. Nova Scotia and parts of Newfoundland and Labrador can expect powerful winds through the day Sunday.
“The real action though, is of course going to be in the Maritimes, Atlantic Canada,” Dave Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment Canada, told CTV News Channel Sunday morning. “Today is going to be a reprieve between the storm of yesterday and the storm tomorrow.”
Phillips added that strong winds will be a dominating factor with Monday’s snowfall for Atlantic Canada; gusts between 70 and 90 kilometres per hour are expected across the Maritimes, with winds as strong as 100 km/h possible.
With heavy snow and blowing snow expected, Environment Canada is advising residents to postpone any non-essential travel until the storm passes. “Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become difficult to navigate due to accumulating snow,” a winter storm warning for Fredericton reads. “Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions. Visibility will be suddenly reduced to near-zero at times.”
Stormy conditions are expected to continue on Christmas Day for parts of Atlantic Canada, as a low develops near Cape Hatteras, N.C. Environment Canada expects anywhere from 15 to 25 cm of snow to fall through Christmas Day.
Extreme cold in the West
Meanwhile on the Prairies, a multi-day period of bitter wind chills has triggered Environment Canada to issue a swath of extreme cold warnings from northeastern Alberta to southern Manitoba, including Winnipeg. “Bitterly cold air has now moved into southern Manitoba behind a cold front which came through the province on Saturday,” an extreme cold warning for Winnipeg reads.
“Wind chill values near or below -40 can be expected at times through the Christmas period.” Although temperatures on parts of the Prairies are expected to moderate somewhat during the day on Sunday, bouts of extreme cold will continue through next week, Environment Canada says.
And while B.C.’s South Coast and Lower Mainland are expected to be in the clear of any potent winter weather, Phillips says it’s very possible that Vancouver and Victoria could pick up snow. “It’s going to start snowing this afternoon – light snow – and by tomorrow morning, at about 5 o’clock in the morning when they stick that ruler into the backyard, if they’ve got two centimetres or more, they’ve got a white Christmas,” Phillips said.
If that’s the case, it would be the second white Christmas in 19 years for Vancouver and Victoria. North and West Vancouver Island, however, can be sure to expect a white Christmas. A Pacific frontal system will bring heavy snow to the region, with 10 to 15 cm of snow expected through Sunday.
Frigid temperatures have also triggered Arctic outflow and extreme cold warnings for the North Coast, Yoho Park, and Kootenay Park.