Will We Have a White Christmas?

Dec 4, 2003
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Will We Have a White Christmas?



Source: NCDC and NOAA

I have a 10" snowpack here at home, and with no decent warm-up on the horizon, I figure the likelihood of at least some snow being on the ground come Christmas is pretty high.
We have about 6" on the ground now, so unless it warms up quite a bit in the next few weeks we should have one.
I will say yes for a White Christmas for Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids Michigan snowfall this season
33.0 inches of snow for the season thru 12/09
12.7 is the normal value thru 12/09
20.3 inches above normal for snow thru 12/09

8 inches of snow on the ground.

That second map shows the pretty distinct result of the Curse of the Warm Wedge on the western side of the Appalachians that I've been fighting this winter.
I would say yes for sure for Leadville. Then again we always have a white Christmas. :D Right now we have about 17" of snow on the ground, (above average) so this may be an extra white Christmas for us. :lol: What does everyone prefer, a white Christmas or a nonwhite Christmas? I would not know, because I have never had a nonwhite Christmas.
Yep...time to plan a trip to Florida in the next couple of weeks :)
There is a whopping TRACE of snow here in Grand Forks, ND which is 75 miles from the Canuck border. There was moderate rain here yesterday and grass is showing again. More chance for melting later Sunday when a trough swings through and the atmosphere mixes down once again. If not for the quarter inch of crust from a FZRA/PL event a week and a half ago the ground would be bare. No significant systems advertised in the GFS though any Clipper system bewteen now and the holiday could provide the one inch threshold.
I wonder what the chances of it snowing Xmas eve/Xmas morning in the Toronto area. I have a friend there, and she's obsessed with having a white Xmas. Surely the area could get some lake effect snow going, eh? Still think the chances of it are slim, though. Just doesn't seem probable.
The temp rose to 37 here yesterday evening for several hours, and then slowly sank to below freezing predawn this morning. We lost an inch or two of snowpack. With possible freezing rain, or even regular rain mid week our chances seem a little less certain as of now..

Snowdepth currently about 5 inches, down from 7-8 a few days ago....
White Christmases are not always a guarantee in Canada. In fact, if you're on the West Coast, the chances are definitely not good!

Chance of a white Christmas among selected cities in Canada:

Victoria, BC - 11%
Vancouver, BC - 11%
Kelowna, BC - 69%
Edmonton, AB - 88%
Calgary, AB - 59%
Saskatoon, SK - 98%
Regina, SK - 91%
Winnipeg, MB - 98%
Thunder Bay, ON - 100%
Toronto, ON - 57%
Windsor, ON (just across the border from Detroit) - 41%
Ottawa, ON - 83%
Montreal, QC - 80%
Quebec City, QC - 100%
Halifax, NS - 59%
St. John's, NL - 65%
Fredericton, NB - 85%
Whitehorse, YT - 100%
Yellowknife, NT - 100%

Source: http://www.msc-smc.ec.gc.ca/media/xmas/prob_e.html

Note that only four listed above have a 100% chance of a white Christmas. Note the really low chances in Vancouver and Victoria.

Alberta winters are generally dry - and very variable. Calgary's chances are a lot lower due to chinooks, the powerful winds that can raise temps by quite a great deal within 24 hours. The Bow Valley, where the town of Banff lies, actually acts as a kind of wind tunnel aimed right at the Calgary area.

Edmonton has had a snowless, or "brown" Christmas at least once during the 20th Century, the most recent which was in 1998. Snowless Christmases have occured as far north as Grande Prairie, about 465 km NW of Edmonton - just north of the 55th Parallel, or about as far north as Ketchikan in the Alaska Panhandle.

It was up to 54°F (12°C) yesterday in Edmonton. Only less than a week ago, it was down to -13°F (-25°C) and -22°F (-30°C) at Edmonton International Airport about 22 miles (35 km) south of downtown Edmonton.

It's currently about 45°F (7°C).

I do not usually use the weather station at the international airport for the source of local weather info. This is due to the distance and temperature differences due to the urban heat island effect over the city of Edmonton (pop. 712,391 in city proper). I use the City Centre Airport (formerly Municipal Airport) instead, since I live just a few kms south of that airport.
Well things have become very interesting around my area.

We had 5-7" of snow on the ground until yesterday, when it began to finally warm up. Today we're well into the 40's, and the snow has melted down to just a slushy few inches...

Things were looking pretty grim for a white Christmas earlier, as rain was forecasted for Christmas eve. Well, the latest computer models seem to agree on a relatively strong trowel setting up over the area Christmas eve afternoon and night. The NWS now forecasts 3-4" of fresh (wet) snow by tomorrow night. It's definitely a tricky forecast though, as the trowel is very narrow and any shift in where it sets up could make a big difference. Not to mention how quickly the changeover to snow really transpires. It will be interesting to watch nevertheless!

It would be nice to get some fresh new snow just in time for Christmas! :wink:
That would really suck to go from Thanksgiving to Christmas and have enough snow to qualify for a "White Christmas", only for it to all melt off in the last few days. This is the longest "pre-season" snowpack that I can remember for this area, and it looks like we will still have a few inches for Christmas.
Hard to tell here anymore.. thought it was a good bet a week ago when like Joel, I had 6 inches on the ground. But today's high temp hit 49, and we only have a trace of snow on the ground now. But, the forecast calls for snow overnite Christmas Eve into Christmas Day.
That would really suck to go from Thanksgiving to Christmas and have enough snow to qualify for a "White Christmas", only for it to all melt off in the last few days.

That's pretty much what happened here. A few sad little patches remained in the shade this afternoon, but I assume tonight's rain will wash the rest of it away. We might get a brief burst of wet snow tomorrow morning, but I'm not holding my breath.
The models are jumping around with the Christmas Day system. The NAM suggests all rain with QPF of 1.00 to 1.25 inches (and higher) along a narrow axis from southeastern lower MI through IN... While the GFS also has a QPF stripe (also 1.00 to 1.25 inches and higher) a bit further north. Even though the GFS is a bit further north, the profile is below 0C and would support snow... While the NAM is *clearly* rain.

Depending on when the "White Christmas" observation is taken, it could either be a white Christmas or a wet Christmas.

The GFS shows 850MB barely hitting -3C... Not really all that good for snow growth. BUT, if the heavy precipitation rates pan out - a cooler profile would be possible. The NAM is usually the winner when it comes to predicting thermal profiles though - but I do have to give the GFS credit for being very consistent with this system. As of now, I would call for 2 to 3 inches of snow mixed with some rain on Christmas Day... But I could see that quickly changing to either 1) alot more snow, or 2) heavy rainfall and flooding (due to the frozen ground and 4 inch snowpack with 1 inch equivalent water). Interesting to say the least.
The chances for a white Christmas here, in extreme NE Tennessee are looking fairly slim. But the GFS is showing light freezing precipitation on Christmas night.....so, yeah.