PEI

P.E.I. white Christmas odds a toss up

Prince Edward Islanders dreaming of a white Christmas and jingle bells all the way are looking with hope at the newly white P.E.I. landscape.

Mid-December snowfall offers hope of white Christmas

With snow on the ground at Charlottetown city hall in mid-December, the odds of a white Christmas are improved. (Kevin Yarr/CBC)

Prince Edward Islanders dreaming of a white Christmas with every Christmas card they write are looking with hope at the newly white P.E.I. landscape.

A winter storm has dropped a fresh blanket of snow on the Island, and kids from one to 92 are wondering if this will mean a white Christmas this year.

The answer is an absolute maybe.

Even odds

Environment Canada sets a standard for a white Christmas that may be somewhat higher than the typical children listening for sleigh bells in the snow. To qualify as white, there must be at least two centimetres of snow on the ground.

Looking back over the last 20 years of Environment Canada records we see the odds of a white Christmas in Charlottetown are 50-50: 10 years white, 10 years green.

                                                                                                               
White/green Christmases in Charlottetown
20142013201220112010
20092008200720062005
20042003200220012000
19991998199719961995

Those odds are an indication of just how unpredictable a green Christmas can be on P.E.I.

In 2014, at the beginning of the snowiest season on record, it was green on Christmas Day. But the previous Christmas there was 77 centimetres of snow on the ground.

Green Christmases can also be tantalizingly close to white: 2002 was a green Christmas, and 16 cm of snow fell on Boxing Day. There was a similar late snowfall on Dec. 27, 2004.

Last year there was significant snowfall on Dec. 19. The days may have been merry and bright, but the snow was all gone by Christmas. Thirty millimetres of rain fell and the temperature went up to 14 C on Christmas Day.

But what about this year?

There is snow on the ground right now, and the treetops are glistening. Does that improve the odds of a white Christmas?

If we look back 20 years again, we find nine years in which there was at least 10 centimetres of snow on the ground in mid-December (Dec. 14-16).

It is far from a sure thing, but the odds of a white Christmas definitely improve. In six of those years it was a white Christmas.

Just like the ones I used to know.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. Kevin has a specialty in data journalism, and how statistics relate to the changing lives of Islanders. He has a BSc and a BA from Dalhousie University, and studied journalism at Holland College in Charlottetown. You can reach him at kevin.yarr@cbc.ca.

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