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Winter arrives at 4:23 Friday afternoon.

David Phillips with Environment Canada says it will be a snowy start to the new season. A few centimetres of the white stuff is expected Friday and Saturday with temperatures well above the normal high for this time of year.

But then beginning Sunday, Phillips says we will be receiving an atmospheric gift. He notes it will be a period of almost "no weather" from Sunday through Wednesday. Temperatures could creep below the normal high of -10 degrees but there is not much expected in the form of precipitation.

"It's like the perfect situation," says Phillips. "You've got a white Christmas and you've got good weather for traveling."

In fact, he says southern Manitoba looks to be one of the few areas of Canada that will have a white Christmas.

Phillips notes the stretch between Christmas Day and New Year's Day looks to be colder, but not like last year when a high of -25 degrees ushered in the new year.

Meanwhile, Phillips says the month of December has been a complete turnaround from September, October and November. Those three months created the coldest fall in 22 years for southern Manitoba. So far this month, the average temperature in southern Manitoba has been -8.1 degrees, which is considerably warmer than the normal temperature of -13.4 degrees. December has had three days of temperatures below -20 degrees when normally there are eight by this point.

Phillips says the milder weather and the lack of significant snow make winter feel shorter.

"Certainly we think the first month has been not harsh at all," he says. "Our models seem to suggest that the flavour of the winter seems to be a little milder than normal."

Phillips notes he is still expecting we will be under the influence of a weak El Nino this winter. Of the last ten weak El Nino events on the Prairies, six have produced warmer than normal winters, two were normal and two were colder than normal. He adds they also typically produce winters that are drier than normal.

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