From a probability of more than 80 per cent a half century ago, white Christmases are becoming fewer and farther between.
Today, the percentage is about 40 to 60 per cent depending on where you live on the East Coast.
(That is if you don’t live in St. John’s, NL, where it actually is more likely for you to have a white Christmas.)
“There will come a time when a white Christmas will just be a memory of the past,” Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips said. “We’re nearing a point where the odds of a green Christmas will be greater than a white one.”
Phillips said climate change is playing a huge role in warmer winters with less snowfall, especially around the Christmas period.
“We have good records over 70 years. Where it has been slower to change has been in Atlantic Canada. It has been more pronounced in the west, like in Alberta and British Columbia, and in the north,” Phillips said. “Some people have suggested it’s because ice melting has cooled ocean waters so climate change has been slow to come to Atlantic Canada.”
A white Christmas is defined as having at least two cm of snow on the ground Christmas morning. As much as climate is changing, Phillips said, people still have memories of the past that include frequent snowstorms throughout the winter and many white Christmases.
While at one time it was very common to have at least 20 cm of snow on the ground on the morning of Dec. 25, today many areas of the Atlantic region are lucky if they have 10.
Still, while trends are pointing toward milder winters, there are wildcards and there will be years when the weather will be cold and snowy during the holiday period.
“This decade has proven there are periods when you wished you were somewhere else, but there have also been times when it has been El Niño and you’re, like, bring it on,” he said. “The variability has increased but the overall trend has been for warmer. Doesn't mean we can’t have a return to the winter of our youth but it’s something that’s becoming less so and there’s less of a possibility of it happening. It’s not zero.”