Trend indicates fewer white Christmases
Will Christmas be white or green this year. According to recent trends, the chances of a white Christmas have dropped from 80 per cent in the 1980s to 65 per cent today.
AMHERST – What was once a sure thing is now not so sure.
With a week to go before Christmas, it’s still too early to tell if the area will have a white or green Christmas.
“The long-term forecast looks warmer than normal,” Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips said. “When it comes down to it it’s going to be touch and go. There’s not anything obvious.
“It’s hard to make a call. Flipping a coin is just as accurate as reading the models on this one.”
Even if some snow falls this week across the central Maritimes, Phillips said there’s no guarantee it’s going to remain until Christmas morning. He said milder weather and rain is forecast for later in the week.
A white Christmas is defined as having two centimetres or more on the ground on Dec. 25.
Last year, Phillips said there were two centimetres of snow on the ground on Christmas, while in 2010 there were eight centimetres.
Historically, he said, the chances of a white Christmas are becoming less.
“There’s something about our winters. They’re not as wintery as they used to be,” he said. “Thirty years ago there was normally about an 80 per cent chance of a white Christmas. Now, it’s more like 65 per cent.”
Phillips said snow depth at Christmas has really dropped. Just 20 years ago, he said, the average depth was 20 cm on Christmas morning. Today, the average is 10 cm.
“What we’re seeing is less snow and more rain. We’re seeing warmer temperatures and winters are just not like they used to be,” Phillips said. “That means a reduced chance of having a white Christmas.”
The loss of a white Christmas, he said, resonates more with Canadians than skinny polar bears and the shrinking ice cap in the north. Climate change is guiding this, he said.
“Even people who hate snow sort of like to have some on Christmas morning. That’s why we should appreciate white Christmases more when we get them because the time is going to come when they become fewer than more,” he said. “We should enjoy it when we get one.”