MONTREAL - It’s good news if you like the way your holiday decorations look with a coating of white fluff.
It’s bad news if you hate shovelling.
Come to think of it, does anyone really like shovelling?
There is a 76 per cent chance that Montreal will experience a white and snowy Christmas for 2011.
According to Environment Canada, after analyzing 55 years of weather records, that’s the probability that there will be at least 2 centimetres or more of snow on the ground for Dec. 25.
However, the chances of what the meteorologists at the federal agency deem a “perfect” Christmas – where we wake up at 7 a.m. to fresh-fallen snow that continues to float down from the sky on Christmas morning – is a mere 25 per cent.
Still, that’s a lot better than some of Canada’s other major cities – so if you like sledding, skiing and a Currier and Ives type of winterscape, here are your bragging rights:
Our 25 per cent is superior to Toronto (13 per cent), Calgary (four per cent) and Windsor (four per cent) but nowhere near as idyllic as Quebec City (60 per cent), Sudbury (46 per cent) and Moncton (40 per cent) for scoring that perfect Christmas.
For those of you who delight in boring younger family members of how much colder, snowier and tougher winters were in the past, you’re absolutely right.
Lay it on thick, because there are statistics that show how many white Christmases we had with superior snow depth decades back.
For 1964-1982, the period when today’s parents were children, the chance of a white Christmas in Montreal were 79 per cent.
The probability for those born between 1991 and 2009 is 68 per cent in Montreal.
“The chance of a white Christmas has decreased over the past decades, probably due to the warming of the temperatures,” said meteorologist André Cantin.
“The precipitation that falls is more often rain. Or if it’s snow, the temperatures rise and then the snow melts,” Cantin added.
There are towns where the changes in probability before (1964-1982) and the chance now (1991-2009) are much more dramatic: Calgary 74 per cent vs. 47 per cent; Charlottetown, P.E.I., 95 per cent vs. 63 per cent; Kelowna, B.C., 74 per cent vs. 42 per cent; Sarnia, Ont., 79 per cent vs. 32 per cent.
The exceptions seem to be at either end of the country, where the reverse has been shown:
In B.C., Vancouver and Victoria have increased their chances of a white Christmas over the decades, Vancouver from 11 per cent to 21 per cent and Victoria from 11 per cent to 16 per cent.
In St. John’s, Nfld., the chances of a white Christmas have risen from 53 per cent to 63 per cent.
Snowfall depth – how high those banks are on Christmas Day – has also fluctuated over the years. Whereas in 1964-1982 Montreal could measure 16 centimetres on Dec. 25, the depth of those banks shrunk to 8 centimetres, or half, for 1991-2009.
Again, Cantin pointed to a gradual warming of our weather.
“Temperatures rise more often than not above the freezing point and the snow (that we’ve had to that point) melts to become more compact,” Cantin said. “It’s all related to a warming trend.”
As for the probability of a white Christmas across the country, it ranges from a low of 29 per cent for Penticton, B.C., all the way to 100 per cent in Goose Bay, Nfld., Iqualuit, Nunavut, Kenora, Ont., Whitehorse, Yukon and Yellowknife, N.W.T.
In this province, your best bet is the capital, Quebec City, with a probability of 98 per cent...Cheers ! Have Fun & Remember Verdun.......................... -Les