Don't count on a white Christmas in Ottawa, says weather expert

·2 min read
Don't count on a white Christmas in Ottawa, says weather expert

If you're still holding out hope for a white Christmas in Ottawa, one weather specialist says don't hold your breath.

Environment Canada issued a rainfall warning Wednesday afternoon that warned of heavy rain developing Thursday, which would continue into Friday. The warning predicted 30 to 50 millimetres of rain, with possible flooding in low-lying areas.

"There's just no way it's going to happen," said David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada. He explained that officially, there needs to be at least two centimetres of snow at 7 a.m. on Dec. 25 for it to be considered a white Christmas.

Although he said you might see a bit of the white stuff later in the day.

"At the time you're eating turkey and you finished opening the gifts, say, on Christmas Day in the afternoon and the supper hour, you may look out and you might see that Christmas card look, that snow is falling."

Mild winter on the way

Phillips said green Christmases aren't rare, and on average there is 75 per cent chance of getting a white Christmas in Ottawa.

What is rare is having two green ones in a row, which could happen if this year is green. According to Phillips it would be the first time for a double up in 60 years. Another record Ottawa could beat is the Christmas Eve temperature, calling for 8 C.

Francis Ferland/CBC
Francis Ferland/CBC

As for when you can drag out the snowshoes and cross-country skis, Phillips thinks it may be a while.

"We see a milder than normal winter and perhaps more precipitation. But that means sometimes snow and sometimes rain," he said

"We're going to continue to see [that] in January and February."

Trail groomer not concerned

The forecast doesn't have Dave Adams too worried, although he's disappointed more snow hasn't fallen. The groomer of the Sir John A. Macdonald multi-use winter trail said he's seen lots of slow starts to the season.

"Urban winter pathways can handle climate change pretty good," he said, adding he needs about 10 centimetres for optimal conditions.

"They're not like ice surfaces where you need it super cold or strong winter conditions. They're very good at managing the fluctuating temperatures."

Adams is still expecting a big season — he's even expanding the trails to help with COVID-19 measures.

"We'll have the main trail and beside it we'll have a separate trail and on east and west of that trail — so we're making it nice for physical distancing."