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Who's Likely Getting a White Christmas This Year?

Newsweek logo Newsweek 12/16/2018 David Magee
© White Christmas Outlook

Who’s likely to get a white Christmas this year? Forecast odds show a white Christmas will not be as widespread in 2018 as it was last year when just more than half of the lower 48 states in the U.S. had snow on the ground. But there should some snow to go around this Christmas, especially for those living to the west and north toward the Canadian border, according to the latest forecast update.

The definition of a white Christmas, according to national weather forecasters, is when there is at least one inch of snow on the ground on Christmas Day morning. Historically, according to NOAA, just more than 40 percent of the lower 48 states experience a white Christmas.

This year’s forecast, 10 days out from Christmas, currently shows a white Christmas likelihood for areas to the west, including Washington, Montana, Colorado and New Mexico, to the north and near the Canadian border including Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, and to the east toward the states of New York, Massachusetts, and perhaps part of Pennsylvania and Virginia (the Appalachians).

Snow has already been widespread across parts of the U.S. this season, including several feet that fell in parts of North Carolina last week, but with warmer temperatures melting snow between now and Christmas, and with a generally quiet storm forecast ahead for the next week, some of those spots may not experience a white Christmas.

For most across the U.S., snow on Christmas is not the norm. NOAA’s statistics compiled over the past 15 years revealed a low coverage of 21 percent across the lower 48 in 2003 and a high of 63 percent in 2009. This year’s forecast appears on the lower end, though that could change as Christmas moves closer.

“It's still early, but current indications point to a likely white Christmas in the northern and central Rockies,” according to weather.com forecasters. “A white Christmas is also likely in northern Wisconsin, the Arrowhead of Minnesota and northern Michigan, as well as in northern New England and northern New York.”

The days leading up to Christmas appear quiet on the snow forecast front, with no major storms setting up, according to Accuweather forecaster Alex Sosnowski.

"Large storms and cold air are likely to take a break over much of the nation during much of next week ahead of the Christmas holiday. Following the storm bringing rain and a wintry mix to the East this weekend, generally quiet weather conditions can be expected over much of the Lower 48 states from Monday, Dec. 17, into Wednesday, Dec. 19,” Sosnowski said.

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A system could develop and hit the Midwest and New England a couple of days before Christmas, Accuweather forecasters said, but it’s soon later Christmas Day and the next that a more significant snow system could hit the U.S.

"We believe there will be some sort of potent storm that brews near the Gulf of Mexico just prior to Christmas with a window of movement from straight off the southern Atlantic coast to the Great Lakes during Christmas Day or as late as Thursday, Dec. 27," AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said.

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