White Christmas

Light snow falls on Boxing Day, Truro, NS, 26 Dec 2019 (Dearing)

Despite a relatively snow-free December, Greater Moncton still managed to have a White Christmas this year after all – but just barely.

Environment Canada reports 2 cm of snow on the ground at the airport Christmas morning which fits its official definition.

Other parts of southern New Brunswick and Nova Scotia did not have snow including in Truro where I spent the holiday.

Meteorologists say odds of a White Christmas have decreased in recent years.

Here are the odds for select Canadian cities (1994-2017 versus 1955-2017):

  • Moncton – 65% / 73%
  • Fredericton – 50% / 76%
  • Saint John – 45% / 60%
  • Charlottetown – 55% / 78%
  • Halifax – 40% / 54%
  • Montreal – 70% / 76%
  • Toronto – 45% / 52%
  • Winnipeg – 100% / 98%
  • Calgary – 60% / 59%
  • Vancouver – 10% / 10%

White Christmas

While much of Canada is covered in white on this Christmas Day, many of the major cities are without a snow cover.

Only the Prairie cities of Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Edmonton were guaranteed a White Christmas.

Recent heavy rain and warm temperatures have erased the snow pack across Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and southern New Brunswick.

Traditionally Greater Moncton has a 65 percent chance of having a White Christmas.

Today, the airport recorded 3 cm of snow lying on the ground but much of the city and surrounding area have no snow cover at all.

Green Christmas in Nova Scotia


Not exactly a White Christmas in Truro, NS, 25 Dec 2016 (Dearing)

While most of New Brunswick was covered in snow on 25 December, many parts of Nova Scotia including Truro had a Green Christmas Day.

While there were a couple of snow squalls during the day which produced a trace or so, it was mostly sunny with a strong, cold wind in central Nova Scotia.

As a child growing up in this area, having a White Christmas was always a toss up with some years being snowy while other years were rainy.

More white is on the way as a Colorado Low approaches from the American Midwest and Central Canada with a mixed bag of precipitation expected.

White Christmas guaranteed


For the first time since 2013, Southeast New Brunswick will have a White Christmas.

Although it was mild and rainy on Christmas Eve, not enough showers will fall to wash away the roughly 10 cm of lying snow in Greater Moncton.

Christmas Day is expected to be sunny with seasonal temperatures.

The only two parts of Canada that will not have a White Christmas are the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia and the Pacific coast of British Columbia.

White Christmas


25 Dec 2012 (Courtesy NOAA)

25 Dec 2012 (Courtesy NOAA)

With a few centimetres of old snow on the ground, Environment Canada would technically consider that Greater Moncton had a White Christmas.

But that wasn’t the case throughout the rest of the Maritimes with virtually no snow over much of Nova Scotia.

The only other areas of the country which had a Green Christmas were Southern Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe, Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula and SW British Columbia.

In the United States, a large part of the West was snow covered today along with the Great Lakes region and the Northeast.

Chance of White Christmas

Downtown Moncton covered in snow (Dearing file)

Downtown Moncton covered in snow (Dearing file)

Given how huge Canada is, the chances of having a White Christmas depend on where you live.

The odds are less likely if you live along the West Coast, East Coast or Southern Ontario.

The odds are more likely if you live in the territories, Northern Ontario, Northern Quebec, Labrador, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

In Greater Moncton, Environment Canada says from 1955-2011, we had a 74% chance of having a White Christmas with the odds less likely in more recent years.

Here’s a sample list of cities across Canada:

St. John’s 63%
Halifax 58%
Fredericton 77%
Quebec City 98%
Montreal 77%
Ottawa 81%
Toronto 46%
Winnipeg 98%
Calgary 56%
Vancouver 11%
Yellowknife 100%

Green New Year’s

Most of the Maritimes now snow-free, 01 Jan 2012 (NOAA)

After a last-minute White Christmas in Greater Moncton, it turned out to be a green New Year’s Day in the region.

The snow and cold that arrived Christmas Eve disappeared over the holiday week with rain and milder temperatures turning things stark and green again.

However, forecasters say the mild air will be replaced by the arrival of Arctic air this week which will bring temperatures down considerably across eastern North America.

White Christmas 2011

25 Dec 2011 (courtesy NOAA)

After weeks of green and little snow in December, Greater Moncton managed to have a White Christmas afterall.

From Friday 23 December to Saturday 24 December, about 12 cm of snow fell over the region.

Since temperatures were especially cold due to an Arctic high pressure system which moved in afterward (dipping to -19.9 C), the snow had no chance of melting.

As per the map above, much of Canada had a White Christmas with the exceptions being Southern Ontario, southern Prairies and the West Coast.

However, Environment Canada is forecasting plenty of rain and mild temperatures for mid-week in Greater Moncton which means the snow may not stick around for New Year’s.

White Christmas less likely

Snow and ice cover, 17 Dec 2011 (courtesy NOAA)

A white Christmas is less likely in Canada now compared to almost 50 years ago.

Environment Canada compared average snow on the ground Dec. 25 for two periods: from 1964 to 1982 (then), and from 1991 to 2009 (now).

Vancouver: 21 per cent then, 11 per cent now

Yellowknife: 100 per cent then, 100 per cent now

Calgary: 74 per cent then, 47 per cent now

Regina: 95 per cent then, 89 per cent now

Winnipeg: 100 per cent then, 95 per cent now

Toronto (Greater Toronto Area): 63 per cent then, 42 per cent now

Ottawa: 79 per cent then, 79 per cent now

Montreal: 79 per cent then, 68 per cent now

Saint John: 65 per cent then, 41 per cent now

Fredericton: 84 per cent then, 58 per cent now

Moncton: 84 per cent then, 63 per cent now

Charlottetown: 95 per cent then, 63 per cent now

Halifax: 63 per cent then, 47 per cent now

St. John’s: 53 per cent then, 63 per cent now

Coldest day so far this fall

Fairview Knoll Park, Moncton, NB, 11 Dec 2011 (Dearing photo)

With the official end of autumn fast approaching, the starkness of winter is beginning to appear in Southeast New Brunswick (as in the above photo).

The temperature climbed to only -3.5 C in Greater Moncton yesterday and with the wind chill it felt much colder – by far the coldest day yet this season.

But with no snow in the immediate forecast according to Environment Canada, the odds of a White Christmas this year seem slim.