Although it has certainly felt and looked like winter in most parts of Canada for the past few weeks, Wednesday marked the first official day of winter. Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips told CTV News Channel on Wednesday just what Canadians can expect for the rest of the cold season.

Phillips joked that he’s heard from numerous winter-hating Canadians who are already fed up with shovelling piles of snow and shielding themselves from the bitter cold that gripped many regions of the country last week. There is some temporary relief in store for anyone disgruntled with the latest conditions according to the climatologist.

“The polar vortex has gone home for Christmas. We’re seeing some fairly decent, comfortable temperatures across the country,” Phillips said.

Before you get too excited, Phillips warned that the polar vortex will make a dreaded return and that the coldest, snowiest months of January, February and March are still ahead.

“My sense is we’ve just gone through spring training and now the real deal is coming,” Phillips said.

Environment Canada predicts temperatures will be below normal the further west and north you go. Phillips said parts of Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the North will likely experience a colder than average winter.

For the eastern parts of the country, including Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, Phillips said a milder-than-normal winter is anticipated.

“It’s not going to be El Nino warm,” Phillips cautioned. “It’s just going to be a little warmer than normal.”

For those Canadians fondly recalling last year’s unseasonably warm winter, Phillips clarified that this season won’t be anything like that. He described this year’s winter forecast as a “classic” kind of cold.

White Christmas?

Unlike the mild green Christmas many regions saw last year, Phillips said he’s confident there will be a white Christmas for many more areas this season.

Phillips did mention that parts of Saskatchewan, like Regina and Saskatoon, could be an exception. He said that province has suffered through bitter cold temperatures but it hasn’t received very much snow.

Ottawa, on the other hand, has received more than its fair share of the white stuff and will most likely experience a white Christmas this year.

“They’ve got 44 centimetres of snow on the ground in Ottawa, more snow than any other place in Canada,” Phillips remarked.

Phillips said the classic winter forecast may be good news to some Canadians who enjoy outdoor activities during the season, such as skating on Ottawa’s Rideau Canal. For others, the predictions might be less welcome he contended.

“The majority are probably saying, ‘Enough is enough,’” Phillips said with a laugh.