The Cities With the Best Chance for a White Christmas

Dec 19, 2017

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With less than a week to go until Christmas, meteorologists are getting a clearer picture of the weather patterns that’ll be in place for the holiday. But, will you end up with a White Christmas? Let’s take a look at where things stand.

A ridge of high pressure is going to force the jet stream north into the Arctic before allowing it to plunge south down the West Coast. This weather pattern is going to create a “cold-air pipeline” of very cold Arctic air, which will blow into the continental United States starting Tuesday.

Throughout much of this week, the cold air is going to be limited to the West Coast, with it finally pushing south into Texas by Friday. As the air circulates around a ridge of high pressure in the Atlantic Ocean, the cold winds will reach the Northeast by Christmas Day. The deep Southeast may be the only part of the country shielded from cold temperatures.

What does this mean for the likelihood of a White Christmas? Well, the weather gurus at Weather Underground have been updating a White Christmas forecast daily as weather patterns and forecasts shift. Stay tuned to this page for the latest updates on the forecast.

As of December 18, here are the latest predictions for what part of the US will have at least one inch of snow on the ground on December 25:

Image courtesy of Weather Underground.
Image courtesy of Weather Underground.

Historically Speaking

When approaching the question of where in the US will have a White Christmas, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) takes a look at historical data. Based on weather data from 1981-2010, here’s a map of areas in the US that have snow on the ground for Christmas:

If you’re set on having a White Christmas, there are only a few places outside of Alaska that boost a 100% historical probability:

  • Climax, CO
  • Cooke City, MT
  • Silver Lake Brighton, UT
  • Old Faithful, WY
  • Snake River, WY
  • Crater Lake National Park Headquarters, OR
  • Darwin Ranch, WY
  • Hebgen Dam, MT
  • Lake Yellowstone, WY
  • Blowhard Mountain Radar, UT
  • Moran, WY
  • Aspen, CO

However, there are plenty of areas with a high historical probability — including most of Idaho, Minnesota, Maine, upstate New York, the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

If you’re curious about the historical probability for a particular city, here’s an interactive map of the White Christmas probabilities.

Forecast for Christmas

While weather forecasts are can shift across a week, here are the current Christmas Eve and Christmas Day forecasts for major US cities:

  • New York City: Christmas Eve: A 50% chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 39. Christmas Day: A 50% chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 50.
  • Los Angeles: Christmas Eve: Mostly clear, with a low around 44. Christmas Day: Sunny, with a high near 72.
  • Chicago: Christmas Eve: A chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 15. Christmas Day: A slight chance of snow. Partly sunny, with a high near 20.
  • Washington DC: Christmas Eve: A chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 40. Chance of precipitation is 50%. Christmas Day: A chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 53. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
  • San Francisco: Christmas Eve: Partly cloudy, with a low around 45. Christmas Day: Sunny, with a high near 57.
  • Boston: Christmas Eve: Rain likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 35. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Christmas Day: Rain likely. Cloudy, with a high near 44. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
  • Dallas: Christmas Eve: Partly cloudy, with a low around 29. Christmas Day: Sunny, with a high near 40.
  • Philadelphia: Christmas Eve: A chance of rain. Cloudy, with a low around 40. Chance of precipitation is 50%. Christmas Day: A chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 48. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
  • Miami: Christmas Eve: Mostly clear, with a low around 73. Christmas Day: A 20% chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 78.
  • Houston: Christmas Eve: A 20% chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 41. Christmas Day: A 20% chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 47
  • Atlanta: Christmas Eve: A 50% chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 48. Christmas Day: A 40% chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 57.

Across the largest US cities, only Chicago has snow in the forecast for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Although it’s forecast to go below freezing in Dallas, there’s no precipitation on the radar. Meanwhile, Miami is forecast to hit a balmy 78 degrees on Christmas Day.

Featured image by Michel Setboun / Getty Images

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