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Snow in forecast for this weekend but jury's still out on a white Christmas

A couple of centimetres are expected this Saturday on the Malahat, and on the east Island from Nanoose Bay to Fanny Bay, and from Courtenay to Campbell River. But don't count on snow for Christmas.

Parts of Vancouver Island should prepare for a snowy weekend, but don’t get your hopes up for a white Christmas.

The Malahat is expected to get two to four centimetres of snow this Saturday afternoon as part of a frontal system heading to B.C.’s south coast, said Environment Canada meteorologist Alyssa Charbonneau.

“It looks like it’s going to be pretty wet snow, starting as rain and then changing to wet snow,” she said. “It could continue into the evening and be a bit messy on the Malahat.”

A special weather statement from Environment Canada is also calling for snow on the east Island from Nanoose Bay to Fanny Bay, and from Courtenay to Campbell River, with about two centimetres expected Saturday morning in higher elevations and some areas near the coast.

Another special weather statement says Port Alberni is in line for about five centimetres of snow Saturday, with inland areas set to receive up to 10 centimetres at higher elevations.

Charbonneau said it’s not a “classic” snow pattern — it’s cool, but the air isn’t that cold, which leads to a mix of rain and snow with quick accumulations in some spots.

As for Christmas, it’s too early for an actual forecast. Luckily, however, Environment Canada keeps tabs on the chances of a white Christmas — defined as at least two centimetres of snow on the ground — for 45 communities across the country, including Victoria, based on statistics from 1955 to 2021, and from 1997-2021.

Based on long-term statistics, it’s pegging Victoria’s chances of a white Christmas this year at 12 per cent — the same as last year, when the capital region ended up getting a large dump of pre-Christmas snow.

Using the more recent set of stats, Victoria’s chances rise to 16 per cent — also the same as 2022.

Vancouver is lower on the scale, with nine per cent using the longer-term stats and eight per cent for the shorter term.

Elsewhere in B.C., Kamloops is 52 per cent for both timelines, and Kelowna is at 64 and 56 per cent, respectively.

Yellowknife and Whitehorse have a white Christmas in their back pockets at 100-100, and Winnipeg is close behind at 99-96.

Toronto is at 45-40, Montreal is 75-68 and Halifax is 52-36.

Environment Canada goes a step further by rating the chances for a “perfect Christmas” — described as not only having two centimetres of snow Christmas morning but “snow in the air sometime Christmas Day.”

Victoria’s chances of that are a lowly six per cent, Vancouver’s is four per cent and Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. leads the pack at 69 per cent chance of a perfect Christmas.

jbell@timescolonist.com