Dreaming of a white Christmas in B.C.? This could be your year

·4 min read
Environment Canada says most British Columbians dreaming of a white Christmas will have something to celebrate this year.  (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Environment Canada says most British Columbians dreaming of a white Christmas will have something to celebrate this year. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)

If a white Christmas is on your wish list there is a good chance you will not be disappointed.

It might even be a perfect one.

According to Environment Canada, if there is at least two centimetres of snow on the ground at 7 a.m. on Dec. 25, then it's officially a white Christmas. If there is also snow in the air at any point during the day, then the weather agency deems it a perfect Christmas.

"In terms of a white Christmas, most of B.C. will still get that wish," said Environment Canada meteorologist Lisa Erven.

But a perfect Christmas does not mean perfect road conditions and the provincial government is reminding drivers to slow down and watch out for snow and ice.

It might be pretty, but be prepared

As winter weather rolls across the province, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said now is the time for British Columbians to prepare for extremely cold temperatures, power outages and slick streets.

"It is imperative that we all watch the weather carefully and look out for those who are most vulnerable," said Farnworth.

Power outages are already impacting residents on Vancouver Island. As of 11:30 a.m. Friday, B.C. Hydro crews were working to restore electricity to nearly 8,000 customers in the Comox Valley between Royston and Merville.

The utility corporation says it expects the power to be restored around 3 p.m. in that region. Crews are also out on the West Coast trying to restore power to customers in Bamfield, Ahousaht and Port Renfrew.

The Alex Fraser Bridge has now opened up both directions after being shut Friday morning around 6:30 a.m. due to safety concerns from falling ice.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is advising drivers that bridges or highways may be closed as needed in order to prioritize driver and passenger safety.

"On provincial highways across the Lower Mainland, maintenance contractors are proactively applying anti-icing brine and plows are mobilized to quickly deal with any accumulation of snow," said the ministry in a statement.

In previous years, vehicles have been hit with "slush bombs" falling from bridge cables onto the lanes below.

Snow coming ... and Santa too

Erven said most of the province, with the exception of some parts of Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, already had snow on the ground this week, and lingering cold temperatures mean it will be sticking around after Santa has come and gone.

And according to Erven, a dusting of snow on Dec. 24 for the South Coast could set the stage for a snowy Christmas Day too.

Darryl Dick/The Canadian Press
Darryl Dick/The Canadian Press

Erven said a weather system "sliding down the coast" Thursday and hovering Friday has "all the right ingredients for snowfall" for this region.

"We could even see a perfect Christmas here for some of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island residents," she said.

As of Friday morning, snow had already arrived on parts of Vancouver Island, prompting North Island College to close its campuses in the Comox Valley, Campbell River, Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Port Hardy.

Watch for wind Rudolph

According to weather records from the Vancouver and Abbotsford airports, the last time there was a dusting of snow on the ground at either location on Christmas Day was in 2017.

While a perfect Christmas may sound more plausible in the northern part of the province, meteorologist Erven said communities north of Quesnel will actually be under a cold, dry air mass on the 25th, meaning it is not likely to snow there on that particular day.

But south of Quesnel is a different story. Erven said there is a really great chance that communities in the southern Interior, from Lillooet and Princeton to the Alberta border, will have a perfect Christmas.

While the snow might be the ideal padding for reindeer hooves on the roof, Erven said Santa and his crew should be prepared for unpredictable wind when heading toward Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

"Watch out for wind shear travelling through the Coast Mountains," Erven warned.

Environment Canada will issue Arctic outflow warnings when extremely cold winds that can create wind chill values of –20 C or colder are forecast for six or more hours.

Check here for the latest alerts from Environment Canada and visit DriveBC for up-to-date road conditions around B.C.

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