No question of a white Christmas in western Newfoundland this year

Gary Kean
Published on December 21, 2013
With people perhaps trying to fit in some last-minute Christmas shopping before more snow hits the region this weekend, many Corner Brook streets were backed up with traffic, as were shopping areas like Murphy Square, pictured here.
Star photo by Chris McCarthy

CORNER BROOK  This time every year, The Weather Network releases its “Ho! Ho! Snow Report,” highlighting what parts of Canada can expect to have a white Christmas.

Corner Brook and western Newfoundland can safely bet on it being a guarantee.

The Weather Network’s definition of a white Christmas is snow cover of two centimetres or more as of 7 a.m. Christmas morning. At the rate snow has been tumbling out of the skies over western Newfoundland for the past week or more, that much snow has probably fallen in the time it has taken to read the first few sentences of this article.

According to meteorologist Dayna Vettese, the big dump of snow is not going anywhere soon. In fact, there should be even more of it come Christmas morning.

In addition to seasonal, albeit sub-zero temperatures, forecast for just about everyday for at least the next two weeks, there are also two more snow-laden storm systems brewing for western Newfoundland before Dec. 25.

According to Vettese, one storm should arrive in western Newfoundland today and another one Monday night into Tuesday. In all, around 25 more centimetres could blanket the region before Christmas Day.

“As if you don’t have enough, you will get some more with these next two systems, solidifying your chances of having a white Christmas,” Vettese said in an interview Friday. “We may even have a little bit of snow falling on Christmas Day, which would make for a perfect Christmas.”

With western Newfoundland prone to sea-effect snow this time of year, Vettese said it is rare for the region to not have a white Christmas.

The same can’t be said for the Avalon and Burin Peninsula areas of Newfoundland. St. John’s, for instance, is listed as only probable for having a white Christmas this year. That’s because many of the storm systems that typically pass through have a milder component to the south.

“The Avalon and Burin Peninsulas are on the warmer side of these systems, which could eat away at any snow that is on the ground,” Vettese said.

Vettese said there is hardly any place in Canada that has yet to see snow so far this season. Only Victoria is listed among the major cities as having no chance for a white Christmas, while Vancouver’s chances are still considered slight.

Temperatures in western Newfoundland, after being normal during most of the fall, have been around three degrees colder than the average so far in December.

“The types of weather systems that are setting up are opening up the door to the Arctic cold and there is nothing trapping that cold air up in the Arctic,” explained Vettese of the unusually cold air most of Canada has been dealing with for the past several weeks.

The sea-effect snow that creates the snow squalls which often lash western Newfoundland could subside in a month or so. That, said Vettese, will depend on whether or not the discrepancy between air and ocean temperatures gets smaller or there is more sea ice coverage off the coast line.

“The fact it has been so cold has helped to have more sea-effect snow because you need the temperature difference to be at least 13 degrees between the air above and the body of water below,” she explained. “As the ocean gets colder, you need a lot colder air for sea-effect snow forming.”