Will you get a white Christmas this year?


GEOS-16 visible satellite

One thing that every Canadian wants for Christmas is snow on the ground. While not everyone will see a white Christmas, here we attempt to provide an idea of which areas might see it. To do so, we first look at current snowpack using satellite:


Current snowpack (Dec 9th 2018)

The image above depicts current snowpack, while heavy clouds in eastern Canada make it hard to discern between clouds and snow. With solar heating during the next two weeks, the snowpack will fluctuate. For example, the band of snow in Illinois and surrounding states is likely not to stick until Christmas. Meanwhile, the snowpack in the Prairie Provinces will likely stay due to cold temperatures. This brings us to the temperatures.


This time of year, temperature fluctuations above/below zero are still fairly common. This provides difficulties with forecasting for a white Christmas. Let us look at today's model run for temperatures.


Temperature (in F) depicted by GFS model

As we can see, the Prairie Provinces should remain well below 0C, which should give close to 100% chance of a white Christmas (see below). A few clippers may provide higher chances of a white Christmas to parts of northern Ontario and northern Manitoba, but that is hard to predict this far out.


Chances of a white Christmas western Canada

For parts of Ontario, it gets more complicated. Lake-effect snow has been the primary snow-makers and will continue to be so until Christmas. However, a few major systems may impact Ontario/Quebec near Christmas, which could change the below predictions. It seems that the systems will mostly bring warm precipitation (rain) for southern Ontario, which should keep the snowpack close to zero.


Chances of white Christmas eastern Canada

Close to 100% chances of white Christmas for northern Michigan and parts of the snow-belts of Ontario, which already have received significant amounts of snow. Cities such as London, ON and Toronto will most likely not see a white Christmas due to the warm temperatures and lack of current snowpack. Areas of southern Quebec, which have a higher latitude than southern Ontario, should see system precipitation in the form of snow until Christmas. Also, parts of southern Quebec have already received snowfall. Therefore, higher chances of a white Christmas for Quebec.