December 18, 2014 2:32 pm
Updated: December 18, 2014 7:03 pm

‘Santa bomb’? Snow, rain may hamper Christmas travel

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WATCH ABOVE: Might Toronto see a “Santa Bomb” on Christmas? Angie Seth reports. 

TORONTO – It may be a week away, but already there’s talk of the “Santa bomb.”

No, it’s not the name of a new computer virus, but rather another new weather phrase that you can file away in your weather dictionary, and it’s not pretty.

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The “Santa bomb” is a low pressure system that’s poised to create headaches for anyone travelling over the holidays, bringing rain, snow or both. Right now it’s a bit early to tell just how bad it’ll be — whether it’ll fall as snow or rain in southern Ontario — but we do know it’ll be a wet one.

Meteorologists use several computer models to forecast the weather, and right now, they don’t all agree.

“It’s been bouncing around a bit,” said Geoff Coulson, a weather preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada.

For Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area, right now temperatures are forecast to be above freezing when the system moves in on Dec. 23 into Christmas Eve. That means the precipitation will likely fall as rain. But there is a chance it will be a mixed bag if temperatures drop slightly.

One model illustrates a wet Christmas Day across northern Ontario down to the U.S. east coast.

Environment Canada/Vizaweb

“We’re not going to have a lot of detail in the public forecast for days that far into the future, except for maybe chances of flurries, or flurries and showers,” said Coulson. “And that doesn’t really give a sense of what this could be.”

“I’ve heard people calling it the ‘Santa bomb,’ Coulson said. “But we’re going to have to get closer to the event to get a better idea of the amounts and timing.”

The winds will also play a role. If it does fall as snow, it could make for some dangerous road conditions. But it’s too early to know how much snow or rain will fall.

Initially the system starts to move in from the Prairies on Dec. 23, but then it merges with one coming out of Colorado. And it’s the Colorado one that looks to be the problem for southern Ontario.

The good news is that the ground is still relatively warm. If any snow does fall, it may not stay on the ground.

Still, if you’re travelling to eastern Canada or the eastern United States, you may see some travel delays, as the system will be moving northeast.

But once that system moves through, colder air behind it may make things messy for Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

“For Christmas Day, some of the biggest impacts will be New England, southern Quebec, and Atlantic Canada,” Coulson said. “So more snow for parts of New York state, eastern Ontario, southern Quebec.”

Though it’s still early to tell, Coulson said that it’s likely that Environment Canada will issue a special weather statement some time over the weekend, just to give people a head start.

“It just goes to show, when we’re talking five to seven days into the future, there can be a sort of spread of potential solutions.”

So while it’s difficult to tell right now what weather Santa will drop over the province, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the weather over the next few days.

To get real-time weather for your area, download the Global News Skytracker weather app.

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