Wet Christmas expected

Snow where it belongs – on the ski hill. This is a scene taken at Mt. Seymour a few years ago.

Snow where it belongs – on the ski hill. This is a scene taken at Mt. Seymour a few years ago.

If you’re dreaming of waking up to a picture perfect blanket of snow Christmas morning, you’d better steel yourself for disappointment.

The short term forecast is calling for rain, and lots of it, with 40 to 50 mm of precipitation falling over the next 24 hours, and a soggy outlook well into the weekend.

It’s going to be a white Christmas across much of Canada this year – except along B.C.’s south coast and in Atlantic Canada.

There’s just an 11 per cent chance of a White Christmas for Vancouver, according to the Weather Network’s Ho! Ho! Snow report.

“Most of the country is already white, with the general exceptions being the east and west coasts,” according to Chris Scott, a meteorologist with the network.

“The south coast of B.C., including the Lower Mainland (Metro Vancouver) will be green, along with most of Newfoundland.”

A “white Christmas” is defined as at least 2 cms of snow measured on the ground on Dec. 25 – Christmas morning.

The country’s rain capital, Prince Rupert, has a slightly greater chance than Vancouver of having a white Christmas, at 13 per cent. Situated on B.C.’s northwest coast, the City of Rainbows sees as much as 250 mm of precipitation annually, most of it in the form of rain.

Lower Mainland residents hoping for snow on Christmas Day will have a much better chance if they leave town.

To the north, Whitehorse, Yellowknife, and Iqaluit all have a 100 per cent chance of a White Christmas, according to statistics based on historical averages..

Traveling east is also a safe bet for snow – Edmonton (88 per cent), Saskatoon (98 per cent), Sudbury (96 per cent), Ottawa (83 per cent) and Montreal (80 per cent) all have good statistical odds of a blanket of snow on Christmas morning.

Toronto, surprisingly, likely won’t see enough snow to shovel, but the eastern Prairies through to Quebec will see persistent cold weather.

Warmer air from the position of the jet stream means the Maritimes are experiencing storms, strong winds and rain instead of the heavy snow that is the norm for this time of year.

“The loss of snow in Atlantic Canada has basically been the gain of snow in Europe where travel chaos has been reported,” Scott said.

According to the 2011 Old Farmers’ Almanac, forecasts indicate winter will bring above-normal snowfall and colder than normal temperatures for most of southern B.C. and the prairies.

During the winter of 2011, a weak to moderate La Nina is expected to form, the Almanac says, resulting in above normal temperatures from southern Ontario and Quebec to Atlantic Canada.

White Christmases are common in most parts of Canada, but are something of a novelty on the ‘wet’ coast.

In the UK, where many North American Christmas traditions originate, white Christmases were more frequent in the 1550s to 1850s, an era known as the Little Ice Age, which brought colder winters to the Northern Hemisphere.