Winter's not cancelled, just postponed: Dave Phillips

Canadians in many parts of the country dreaming of a white Christmas are in store for some disappointment, Environment Canada warns.

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While approximately 85 per cent of the country will see snow on Dec. 25, most of Canada’s big cities will in fact have a green Christmas.

“They’re not just going to need dreams of a white Christmas, but divine intervention to bring about a white Christmas,” Dave Phillips, Environment Canada’s senior climatologist, told CTV’s Canada AM on Tuesday.

The winter season officially started at 11:48 p.m. ET on Monday, which marked the moment the Northern Hemisphere was tilted furthest from the sun.

But for a number of Canadians waking up to winter Tuesday morning, it certainly didn’t look like the beginning of the season.

Phillips said, for some of the most populated cities in the country, this Christmas will resemble what’s typically experienced in Atlanta, Georgia, or Charleston, South Carolina.

He said certain parts of Ontario and Quebec will experience some of the warmest temperatures ever recorded on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

In Quebec City, where there’s usually a 98 per cent chance of snowy landscape on Christmas, residents this year will have a green Christmas.

Meanwhile in Ottawa, known as the snowiest capital city in the world, a mere 0.6 cm of snow has fallen.

Canadians disappointed with winter’s balmy beginnings have El Nino to blame, Phillips said.

He said "tropical breezes" are blowing into the eastern parts of North America.

“It has absolutely robbed any chance of us having a white Christmas in the East, and across many parts of the North America,” he said.

Winnipeg best place to enjoy white Christmas

Canadians set on celebrating the holidays with some snow may want to consider a trip to Winnipeg, Phillips said. He said Manitoba’s capital is the best place for a white Christmas, with fresh snow in the forecast leading up to Christmas.

Many parts of Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia’s Interior are also in store for a white Christmas, Phillips said.

“Even Vancouver…where there’s only a 10 per cent chance of getting a white Christmas, they will even have snow flurries on Christmas Eve,” he said.

In terms of the rest of winter, Phillips said “what you see is what you’re going to get.”

As winter progresses, Phillips said the weather conditions may be a “little tougher” than the start of the season.

“We’re not cancelling winter,” he said. “We’re just postponing it a little bit.”

What will likely come as good news to many Canadians, Phillips said this winter will not resemble last winter, which was one of the longest on record.

“Last year, on Dec. 28, the snow arrived and it didn’t disappear until after April Fool's Day," Phillips told CTV News Channel later on Tuesday. "We don’t see that this year."

He said, in some areas in the eastern parts of Canada, this winter will feel "tropical" compared to last year.

“There will be moments when you'll wish you were somewhere else," Phillips said. "But generally we think there will be periods of freezing and melting, it will go back and forth."


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