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A worker clears snow on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

One of Canada's most high-profile weather forecasters says dreaming of a white Christmas will be easier than planning for one this year.

The Weather Network says most regions that currently have snow on the ground can count on keeping it on Christmas Day.

But unstable weather systems sweeping across most of Canada are leaving forecasters in doubt about conditions for much of the rest of the country.

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Chief Meteorologist Chris Scott says residents across much of Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada may not know if a white Christmas is in the cards until the day itself.

He says prospects for snow are more likely in most of British Columbia, southern Alberta, parts of Saskatchewan and northern Canada.

What's most certain is a spell of bitterly cold weather that Scott says will settle in just after Christmas from Saskatchewan to all points east.

The period leading up to the festivities, however, is likely to feature highly changeable weather that could complicate some holiday travel plans.

"In the next seven to eight days, we've got a lot of active weather that could make travel dicey," Scott said in a telephone interview.

"Not necessarily major snowstorms, but a lot of precipitation that could fall as snow, a bit of freezing rain, over to rain and back again. And when we see that, we know the roads can get messy."

Scott said the central and eastern provinces are most likely to get caught in the unstable weather patterns, with at least two significant weather systems slated to roll through in the week leading up to Christmas.

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People hoping for a white Christmas, he said, may have to wait until the last minute to see if their hopes are fulfilled.

Areas such as Ottawa, Montreal, Fredericton and parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, which all have snow on the ground, can expect to see it remain there on Dec. 25.

Some of the variable systems passing through regions including southern Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, however, may bring enough warm air to wipe out possibilities of a white Christmas.

A different story is expected on the opposite coast, with Scott predicting that snowy conditions will prevail across the southern Interior of B.C. and southern Alberta.

Even typically temperate areas like Vancouver and regions around Victoria may see a dusting of snow if forecasts pan out as expected, he added.

West Coast residents, however, will likely be spared the one thing forecasters seem confident about – a pending cold snap that's expected to grip the majority of the country starting on or just after Christmas Day.

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"We really lock in the cold from essentially Saskatchewan and Manitoba on through Ontario, Quebec, and much of Atlantic Canada as well," Scott said, adding some of those regions will feel arctic conditions they haven't experienced in well over a year.

In some areas, Scott said daytime highs will top out in the negative teens. The wintry weather is expected to last for most of the stretch between Christmas and New Year's Day.

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