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Where will the best Christmas weather be on the Prairies?

Where’s your ‘perfect’ Christmas most likely to be found? We’ve got the data

Every few years I like to revisit the topic of the “perfect” Christmas holiday weather.

As I went through a couple of the older articles that I’ve written on this topic, I found a rather interesting coincidence. Each year we’ve looked at this topic, December has started off warm and dry with little snow cover across large parts of the southern Prairies, and this year appears to be following suit. With the holidays fast approaching, the big question at this time of the year always turns to whether we’ll have perfect Christmas weather, but in reality, the real million-dollar question is, “Just what is ‘perfect’ Christmas weather?”

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For those of you who have followed my articles, it’s probably no secret that my perfect Christmas weather is to have a nice big snow- storm that keeps everyone at home for a couple of days. I know a big storm at this time of the year would cause all sorts of problems and hardships, but deep down inside, it is the idea of being stuck at home for a few days, no pressure to go anywhere because you can’t, plenty of food available, family around you, and hopefully something new to play with, that just sounds perfect to me! Basically, a perfect time to be forced to sit back and just relax and get away from all the holiday bustle. But that’s my holiday weather wish and I am sure there are others out there who would prefer no snow and record warmth, or daytime highs right around 0 C with great big lazy snowflakes falling, or maybe even clear skies and frigid cold! All I know is, it takes all kinds to make the world go ’round and what is perfect for one person is not perfect for another.

According to Environment Canada, perfect Christmas weather means there is already snow on the ground and at some point during Christmas Day there is measurable snowfall. So, what are the chances of this happening somewhere across the Prairies? The table shows the probability of having snow on the ground for Christmas, along with having snowfall during the day. It breaks the data down into two periods to try and show how our winters seem to be becoming warmer with less snow.

Looking at this data, it seems that if you want a white Christmas, then Winnipeg is your best bet. If you want Environment Canada’s version of a perfect Christmas, then Regina is your best bet.

If your version of a perfect Christmas is to have record-breaking warm or, heck, even cold temperatures, then what?

If you are looking for a place to go on the Prairies to experience a really warm Christmas, all of the other Prairie cities have seen some nice warm Christmases in the past, not one of the major centres comes close to Calgary’s recorded highs. If you want a chance at seeing some really cold weather during this period, then you could pick pretty much any place, as they have all seen Christmases colder than -35 C, although Winnipeg comes out the winner here, with a bone-chilling -47.8 C on Christmas Eve in 1879!

Interestingly, when you examine the precipitation records for these three days you’ll notice the Christmas period has been a relatively dry, storm-free period — but there are a couple of exceptions. Winnipeg did see a heavy dump of 30.5 cm of snow on Boxing Day back in 1916, but the record for biggest Christmas snow- storms has to go to Edmonton. Back in 1938, Edmonton recorded over 25 cm of snow on Christmas Eve and then a further 18 cm of snow on Christmas Day, for a total of 43 cm of snow!

Whatever weather you do end up with I hope it is what you wanted; if not, then remember the season and try to make the best of it!

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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