Professor Paul Thursday - Chances of a White Christmas | weatherology°
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By: Meteorologist Paul Trambley
Updated: Dec 9th 2020

Professor Paul Thursday - Chances of a White Christmas

Each year, children and adults alike wonder if the upcoming Christmas will be white, or if they will be left only to dream of a white Christmas. The image provided gives the percentage chance that any region in the lower 48 has of seeing a white Christmas from year to year. These percentages were compiled based on data from the years 1981 to 2010. As expected, the southern regions of the country almost always see a brown or green Christmas each year, while mountainous regions, as well as the far north, can come to expect it. Areas shaded in white have a white Christmas over 90% of the time, while the brown regions have less than a 10% chance of seeing one.

The criteria that must be met in order for a Christmas to be considered a white one is that there must be at least one inch of snow on the ground on Christmas Day. This official measurement is usually taken around 6 am on December 25th.

While most areas of the lower 48 can only hope for a white Christmas from year to year, residents of northeast MN, the Upper Peninsula of MI, and northern New England are nearly assured of having a white Christmas each year. This year, portions of these areas are without snow as we head into mid December. So it may be a rare year where folks in the far north aren't assured of having a white Christmas. If you are wondering what area of the country will see the deepest snow this Christmas, look to the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in California. A reporting station near Leavitt Lake, is reporting a snow depth of 296 inches (or just over 24 and a half feet). That may seem like a lot, but it's well short of the record snow depth for North America. That occurred back on March 11th, 1911, in Tamarack, CA. On that day, a whopping 453 inches was measured in this town on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. 

Closer to sea level, white Christmases can be much harder to come by across the lower 48. To see what your percentage chance of having a white Christmas is, open this map and click on the circle nearest to you. 

To view a map of the current snow depth in the lower 48 click here.

To check on your latest local forecast to see if any snow is in your future leading up to Christmas, log on to weatherology!

White Christmas
Areas shaded in purple and white can expect a white Christmas most years
Brown Christmas
Brown Christmases are expected in the majority of the U.S. from year to year
Criteria White Christmas
An inch of snow is needed for a Christmas to be white