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Ho! Ho! Snow Report

Many areas are seeing a White Christmas this year
Many areas are seeing a White Christmas this year

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

December 22, 2010 — Have you ever wondered what defines a White Christmas? Meteorologically, there is a definition.

Christmas Day from coast to coast
Christmas Day from coast to coast


Many Canadians have their own idea about what a White Christmas may be, but Environment Canada defines the term as at least 2 cm of snow measured on the ground Christmas morning.


Winter arrived early to several areas this year and many places have reported at least 15 cm on the ground.

“Most of the country is already white, with the general exceptions being the east and west coasts,” says Chris Scott, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. “The south coast of B.C., including the Lower Mainland (Metro Vancouver) will be green, along with most of Newfoundland.”

For southern Ontario, there is a huge variation due to the recent lake-effect snow that has been blasting some areas and giving other places nothing at all. “For example, there is 50-plus cm on the ground in London, versus Toronto where there is barely anything,” explains Scott. While there may not be enough snow to shovel in the Toronto area Christmas Day, residents can keep ice skating on their list of things to do. “The area won't see heavy snow, but temperatures will still remain cold,” says Scott.

The cold weather will also persist from the eastern Prairies through to Quebec, where recent heavy snow has blanketed the ground.

Meanwhile, parts of the Maritimes remain on the edge of seeing a White Christmas. Based on historical data, Charlottetown typically has an 87 % chance of a White Christmas, while in Halifax, it's close to 60 %. It may be a different story this year, however. “Normally snowy locations in Nova Scotia and PEI may only have a trace of snow or may even be green this Christmas,” says Scott.

The recent position of the jet stream has allowed warmer air to enter the Maritimes causing many of the storms that have hit the region to bring strong winds and heavy rain as opposed to heavy snow. “The loss of snow in Atlantic Canada has basically been the gain of snow in Europe where travel chaos has been reported,” says Scott.


The following chart indicates the chance of select cities having 2 cm of measurable snow on the ground on Christmas morning. These statistics are based on a historical average. While looking at an average is beneficial, it isn't a complete guarantee, especially since there are vast extremes in weather and climate in Canada.

CityChance of a White Christmas
Yellowknife100 %
Whitehorse100 %
Iqaluit100 %
Thunder Bay100 %
Quebec City99 %
Saskatoon98 %
Winnipeg98 %
Sudbury96 %
Brandon93 %
Regina91 %
Edmonton88 %
Charlottetown87 %
Fredericton85 %
Ottawa83 %
Montreal80 %
London74 %
St. John's65 %
Calgary59 %
Halifax59 %
Toronto57 %
Windsor41 %
Prince Rupert13 %
Vancouver11 %
Victoria11 %

Be sure to check the Christmas Holiday Forecast for up-to-date information on the conditions in your area. You can also tune into The Weather Network on TV for details on the holiday weather.

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