Most Canadians dreaming of snowflakes falling on Christmas Day are going to wake up disappointed.
There may still be snow on the ground in regions that have had a pre-holiday powdering, but some major cities like Toronto are still in green, and festive flurries aren’t in the forecast for most of the country on Dec. 25.
“If you’re expecting the scene at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life when George Bailey is kind of running through Bedford Falls saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to everyone as the snow is falling down in snow banks, that’s not going to happen really anywhere,” Global News Weather Specialist Mike Arsenault said on Saturday.
The Atlantic provinces have gotten a huge helping of snow recently, but days of near-record breaking highs have made quick work of it, Arsenault said. Temperatures have cooled, but there’s no precipitation in the forecast for Halifax or New Brunswick’s three biggest cities.
“It looked like they were set up for a white Christmas, but now it’s unlikely going to happen in Atlantic Canada,” Arsenault said.
As of Sunday evening, St. John’s has a 40 per cent chance of flurries on Christmas Day, according to Environment Canada. Charlottetown also has a 60 per cent chance of flurries.
Moving west, Montreal is anticipating sun and a high of -9 C on Tuesday, with Ottawa looking at -8 C. Both cities have some snow on the ground as of Sunday evening.
There are flurries in the forecast Monday for Toronto and portions of southern and central Ontario. With temperatures right around the freezing mark, however, that snow is unlikely to stick around, Arsenault said.
— Anthony Farnell (@AnthonyFarnell) December 24, 2018
Toronto is looking at a mix of sun and cloud, and a temperature of -1 C on Tuesday.
There is snow in Winnipeg, but no additional flurries are expected on Christmas Day, according to Environment Canada.
Periods of snow are in the forecast for Regina on Christmas Eve, while Saskatoon has no precipitation and temperatures of -13 C anticipated for Christmas Day.
“It’s going to be very cold there, so the snow that is falling and has fallen isn’t going to go anywhere, because it is so cold,” Arsenault said of the Prairies.
Calgary is looking at temperatures of -5 C and sunny, while Edmonton is expected to be slightly colder — -7 C — and cloudy.
B.C.’s Interior, at least at its lower elevations, is facing the possibility of a green Christmas this year.
In the Okanagan Valley, temperatures have been above normal all month. Kelowna’s Christmas forecast is for -1 and cloudy.
As for Vancouver and Victoria, they’ll have to get a dose of Christmas cheer from the sun, which is expected to shine on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
In Canada’s north, a white Christmas is almost a certainty. On Christmas Eve, Iqaluit is poised for a “near blizzard,” Environment Canada said, and Whitehorse and Yellowknife have a chance of flurries as well.
How common is a white Christmas?
Environment Canada defines a white Christmas as two centimetres or more snow on the ground by 7 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 25.
A perfect Christmas is when those conditions are met and there is also snowfall in the air at some point during the day.
The federal agency’s data shows that the probability of a white Christmas is on the decline.
Based on the records of 45 major cities between 1994 and 2017, there’s an average chance of 68 per cent overall. But between 1965 and 1984, that proportion was 79 per cent.
The data also highlights just how dramatically winter weather varies across Canada.
Since 1994, Halifax, Penticton, B.C., Sydney, N.S., Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto and surrounding area, Saint John and Fredericton, N.B., and Lethbridge, Alta., have had white Christmases half the time or less.
In the case of Vancouver and Victoria, a white Christmas is far less frequent — 10 and 15 per cent of the time, respectively.
On the other end of the spectrum, Winnipeg, Timmins, Ont., and Goose Bay, N.L., have only had one green Christmas each since 1986. And there wasn’t a single green Christmas for Yellowknife, Whitehorse, Iqaluit or Kenora, Ont., in 63 years of data.