Balmy Christmas: Wacky weather brings high winds, golf in December

You might be dreaming of a white Christmas, but if you live in a major Canadian city, chances are you won’t be getting one this year.

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Environment Canada defines a “white Christmas” as “snow on the ground of 2 cm or more on Christmas morning at 7 a.m. EST.” But as warm weather bakes the eastern half of the country, for many, the chances of seeing snow is melting away.

As of Thursday evening at 5 p.m. EST, it was a balmy 10 degrees Celsius in Toronto – slightly cooler than Montreal’s 12 degrees.

And in some parts of Ontario and Quebec, the tropical breeze has been damaging. Gusts up to 90 kilometres per hour have knocked down trees and cut power to tens of thousands, with some in Sudbury being told they wouldn’t regain power until late Friday night. Hydro One said it was dealing with about 415 outages affecting almost 100,000 customers.

Christmas eve weather tree

The high temperatures have also been a strain on those who rely on a proper winter for their livelihood. Only 16 of Quebec’s 75 ski hills are open for business, for example.

But for others, getting a taste of July for Christmas isn’t anything to complain about.

“It’s a bucket list thing,” says one Montreal golfer. “I can actually say, on Christmas Eve, in Quebec, I played golf in shorts.”

It was the same story in Barrie, Ont., at the Innisbrook Golf Course where more than 200 teed up on Thursday.

“This is a first by about a month. We’ve never been open this late,” says Craig Membery, the course’s general manager. “It’s unbelievable.”

Christmas eve weather golf

Environment Canada’s Marie-Eve Giguere said the unprecedented warm weather can be attributed to El Nino – at least partially.

“This is unheard of,” Giguere said. “El Nino, we can say, is playing a role in that, but I am not sure we can blame only El Nino.”

Still some winter wonderlands

While one half of the country is reaching for sunscreen, many Canadians are still having a frosty winter. Across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, temperatures plunged below -10 degrees Thursday, with forecasts calling for snow in Regina and Calgary.

According to Environment Canada, the historical chances of a white Christmas range from 15 per cent to 100 per cent, depending on where you live.

Cities like Iqaluit, Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Kenora, Ont., all have a 100 per cent chance of being coated in snow come Christmas Day. On the other hand, Victoria and Vancouver generally see snow on 15 per cent of Christmases.

In between those two extremes you have Toronto (40 per cent), Halifax (45 per cent), Calgary (55 per cent), Montreal (70 per cent), Saskatoon (85 per cent) and Winnipeg (95 per cent).

With a report from CTV Montreal’s Bureau Chief Genevieve Beauchemin, and files from CTV Barrie, CTV Northern Ontario



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