No White Christmas for Canadians in 2011

The country is reporting its first predominantly green holiday season since 1955.

THE GIST

Canadians are used to seeing a white Christmas, but this year most will just be dreaming about one.

For a city to qualify as having a white Christmas, Environment Canada must note at least two centimeters (0.79 inches) of snow on the ground at 7 am on December 25.

Most Canadians will not wake up to a white Christmas on December 25 for the first time since Canada's weather office began recording snowfalls in 1955, the government agency reported.

And the forecast for the coming days is sunny and very mild.

"A white Christmas is usually a sure thing in Canada, but not this year," Phillips said.

"We are usually the snowiest country in the world," he said. "But this year, like no other since we've been monitoring in 56 years, there will be many Canadians just dreaming of a white Christmas and not getting one."

For a city to qualify as having a white Christmas, Environment Canada must note at least two centimeters (0.79 inches) of snow on the ground at 7 am on December 25.

This month has been on average six to seven degrees (Celsius) warmer than normal and most snow that has fallen has melted soon after hitting the ground.

Gander, Newfoundland -- usually "the snowiest place in Canada" -- only has a trace of snow on the ground today, Phillips noted.

Winnipeg, Manitoba -- once ranked the coldest metropolis on Earth -- usually has a 98 percent chance of snow at Christmas. But temperatures in the west of the country are expected to hover just above freezing in the coming days.

Other cities in the east like Saint John's, Newfoundland have a few centimeters of snow on the ground but rain is forecast.

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Phillips said Canadian winters are generally becoming milder, and starting later, and so the idea of a white Christmas may be something of the past.

He pointed to a combination of climate change and an "urban heat island effect" created by Canada's growing cities. High energy use generates heat that is retained by materials in urban developments, resulting in areas that are consistently hotter than surrounding rural areas.

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