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Memories of Christmases past

As the holidays are right around the corner and I am fond of traditions, both old and new, I thought it was time to take our annual look at the Christmas holiday weather statistics. I’ve written about this in various ways in the past and this year I’m taking what I think are the most interesting points and rolling them all into one article.

If your wish on Christmas is to have snow falling from the sky, then your best bet is to head out to the Dauphin area. Looking back at the weather records for our three main locations in agricultural Manitoba, I found that Dauphin has the highest probability of seeing snow over Christmas. Dauphin can expect to see more than a centimetre of snow to fall around 17 per cent of the time, or around one in every six Christmases. This compares to 14 per cent and 13 per cent at Winnipeg and Brandon.

Interestingly, with the exception of an 18-cm dump of snow on Christmas Day in Brandon back in 1965, no major snowstorms have occurred on or around Christmas. In fact, the probability of seeing snow during the three days around Christmas is actually lower by around three to four per cent than nearly any other period during December, January and February. Kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

All three of our stations have seen their fair share of warm and cold Christmases. I have included the records for each of the stations in a table for you to look at. I have also included weather records for New Year’s Eve. This time it’s Winnipeg that holds the record for the greatest amount of snow, with 18 cm falling on New Year’s Eve back in 1965.

A couple of interesting old Christmas weather tidbits from David Phillips over at Environment Canada showed that in 1939, Winnipeg experienced its second “green” Christmas in history. The thermometer was a relatively balmy -5C, tempting golfers and bowlers to the greens, and tennis players to the courts. Apart from kids with new toboggans and taxi drivers, most people seemed to enjoy the unseasonable warmth. Way back in 1877, Christmas in Winnipeg was mild, rainy, and snowless – “muddy” was the best description. A weather observer/druggist included in his weather observations that “two frogs were said to have been seen in the swamps adjoining the city.” Prior to Christmas Day there were seven consecutive days with rain, totalling more than 23 mm.

Now, the big question for us this year is: are we going to continue with the tradition of quiet Christmas weather or will we break away and have a stormy holiday season? Right now my money is on keeping with tradition, with our region seeing relatively cold and dry weather. Arctic high pressure looks like it will be the dominant feature during the holidays, which will likely keep most of the stormy weather to our south. With that said, the storm track won’t be too far off and a small movement to the north could bring some pretty active weather into our region.

So, no matter what Mother Nature serves up over this upcoming holiday season, remember to take the time to enjoy whatever she dishes out.


Christmas records (December 24-26)

Warmest high: 5.4C, Dec. 25, 1999

Coldest high: -28.8C, Dec. 24, 1996

Coldest low: -37.0C, Dec. 24, 1996 or -42C in 1872

Warmest low: -2.8C, Dec. 26, 1959

Greatest one-day snowfall: 9.4 cm, Dec. 25, 1938 New Year’s Eve

Warmest: 0.6C, 1991 Coldest: -37.8C, 1973

Greatest snowfall: 18.0 cm, 1965


Christmas records (December 24-26)

Warmest high: 6.4C, Dec. 25, 1999

Coldest high: -28.5C, Dec. 25, 1996

Coldest low: -37.0C, Dec. 26, 1996

Warmest low: -3.3C, Dec. 25, 1959

Greatest one-day snowfall: 18.0 cm, Dec. 25, 1942

New Year’s Eve

Warmest: 3.9C, 1953

Coldest: -38.3C, 1967

Greatest snowfall: 5.8 cm, 1988


Christmas records (December 24-26)

Warmest high: 8.1C, Dec. 25, 1999

Coldest high: -27.3C Dec. 25, 1990

Coldest low: -37.8C, Dec. 26, 1968

Warmest low: 0.0C, Dec. 25, 1956

Greatest one-day snowfall:10.0 cm, Dec. 25, 1942

New Year’s Eve

Warmest: 5.0C, 1963

Coldest: -38.3C, 1973

Greatest snowfall: 7.4 cm, 1988

About the author

Co-operator contributor

Daniel Bezte

Daniel Bezte is a teacher by profession with a BA (Hon.) in geography, specializing in climatology, from the U of W. He operates a computerized weather station near Birds Hill Park.



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