Our winters aren’t what they used to be says Environment Canada’s David Phillips


If you thought Monday was rather balmy you’d be absolutely correct. In fact it was record breaking. We haven’t seen such a warm December 14 since 1975 – and we still beat it.

It reached 11.1 degrees in 1975 and we hovered around 12 degrees yesterday.

But winter enthusiasts fret not, you may still get a little chill, according to Environment Canada’s senior climatologist David Phillips. He says by the time the weekend hits, we’ll at least know what season it is.

“The liquid stuff will come to an end on Thursday and then the temperatures fall, not tumble but just ease downward,” said Phillips, predicting flurries and snow squall activity during the weekend with lows of -9 and -13 degrees Celsius.

“So you’re going to finally see the white stuff… but clearly you’re not going to be buried in snow.”

Phillips said it’ll hopefully put people in the festive mood but just as you start craving the eggnog, temperatures will once again rise.

Will Muskoka get a white Christmas?

If Phillips had to put his money on it, he’d say we won’t. He predicted rain and a high of 4 and a low of -2 on Christmas Eve.

Even at night the temperature is not going to fall below freezing so my sense is it’s going to not be a white Christmas.Environment Canada’s David Phillips

But before you lynch him, here’s his caveat: Because of Muskoka’s lake effect, any cool air that comes through could produce some flurries.

“And you know flurries don’t seem like a lot but it can develop into a snow squall and you can have significant snow fall. But then what happens after the snow engine turns on, then it’s going to be assaulted again with some warm rains and mild temperatures,” he said.

This past fall was also the warmest on record and our winters overall keep getting warmer, said Phillips.

Is it climate change?

You look at the trends, are we warmer now? Yes we are, our winters aren’t what they used to be. Last year and the year before it wasn’t like that, but when you average them all you see a small relentless kind of warming.david phillips

He warned that if we get one day that seems to be balmy and unusual, “it’s just telling you it’s weather and it’s coming from the south and it probably can be explained by jet streams and high pressure areas.”

On the other hand, “our winter seasons seem to be shorter, they are fractionally warmer than normal, we see maybe less snow, we see a greater chance of having a green Christmas, we see less ice in the north… that’s climate change.”

Phillips also noted that not all areas are warming equally. “If we look at the Great Lakes area, we generally find that over 68 years, since the 1940s, our temperatures in the winter have warmed up by not quite one degree. But if you look at places like northern British Columbia or the Yukon, they’ve warmed up by five degrees,” he said. “Now every area of Canada is warmer so the whole country is warmer now. Our winters aren’t what they used to be.”



  1. Elizabeth Hughes on

    I wish you would not put a spinning ad in. It is very hard to read an article on a iPad mini with the ad spinning. Certainly distracts.

    • Dawn Huddlestone on

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Thank you for reading Doppler. We understand that ads can be a distraction when reading content online. They are, however, a necessity as all of the content you enjoy and the platform on which you read it are supported by our advertising revenue. We made a decision to present only a small number of ads per page which are served up in rotation so that you won’t see the same one every time, and only one of those ads is the spinning cube that you’ve mentioned. We hope that you’ll occasionally click on the ads that are of interest to you in support of our advertisers who make this content possible.

      Happy Holidays!

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