The Gleaner
Weather Report

Châteauguay Valley Weather December 2023 & Year-end Summary

Despite a couple of cold spells at the beginning of the month, December ended up being the fourth warmest and third wettest December in the last 57 years since records were started at the Ormstown weather station.

The average temperature for the month ended up at -0.7, up from  -2.7°C at the beginning of the month and well above the normal for the entire month of -4.5°C. A significant factor in the above normal temperatures were the nighttime lows, with 24 of 31 nights experiencing above average temperatures and seven of those nights witnessing low temperatures that were warmer than the normal daytime highs. It was an easier month on heating bills for sure.

Total precipitation for December settled at 151 mm, which was made up of 113 mm of rain and 29 cm of snow, which melted down to 38 mm of water. This represents about 50% more precipitation than normal for the month, and with no frost in the ground, most yards and driveways are like a swamp.

Green Christmas

Even though there were several snowfall events starting in November, pretty much all the snow on the ground disappeared before Christmas Day, making it the 14th Green Christmas in the Valley since 1964. That year was a zero snow year, meaning not even traces of snow under the tree branches in the woods, and Christmas 2023 was pretty much the same. 

The official definition of a Green Christmas is 0 cm of snow at the measuring point (weather station) and a maximum of 2 cm in locations spread about the area (i.e. ditches, under the trees, etc.). The Montreal Gazette reports that, since 1955 in Montreal, the chances of a Green Christmas have increased from 20% to 33%, that is to say moving from one in every five years to one in every three.

2023 Summary

The Green Christmas should come as no surprise given that 2023 was the warmest year in the last 57 years of local records, but just by a whisker. The average temperature for the entire year was  8.36°C, which was just a shade more than the record warmest year set in 2012 at 8.35°C.

The annual average temperature over the last 57 years now stands at 6.77°C, and all average annual temperatures over 8.0°C (seven years) have occurred in the last 26 years during which time the average annual temperature has risen by 0.58°C.

Warmer temperatures means that the atmosphere has more capacity to absorb moisture, which then leads to higher precipitation, which resulted in 2023 almost setting a record. But the year ended up in third place at 1219 mm, which is just 19 mm shy of the record for annual precipitation set in 2022 (1238 mm). The annual average precipitation over the last 57 years now stands at 1000 mm, with the average for the last 26 years being 1051 mm.

January 2024

Given that a famous Farmers’ Almanac predicted a cold and icy Canadian winter for 2023-2024, giving a forecast for even a month ahead seems like a risky venture these days. That being said, the forecast for January 2024 is average to below average temperatures (around -8 to -10°C), with a good dollop of icy cold during the last week of the month, with nighttime lows in the -20°C range. There are snow events forecast for each week of the month but no large accumulation is predicted. 

On that score, only time will tell what’s in store for the weather. In the meantime . . . Happy New Year and all the best for 2024.

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