December 20, 2012

Winter Storm Forecast May Buck the Recent Trend of a Non-White Christmas

Mention Christmas, and images of Santa, stockings and the nativity scene come to mind. For most folks that don't call the tropics home, snow is also a common denominator as most people are perfectly content with a little bit of precipitation to make for a "White Christmas".

Scotland County has only witnessed a few scattered flurries thus far in 2012, and preliminary reports didn't put good odds on a white Christmas in 2012.

According to meteorologist Meghan Evans, normal December snowfall and temperatures are both critical factors that play a role in who gets a white Christmas. This is due to the fact that snow needs to fall and stay put on the ground to meet the definition.

Based on data from 1981 to 2010, northern New England, the Upper Midwest, Rocky Mountains and Intermountain West have the highest chance, more than 75 percent, of a white Christmas.

Minneapolis, MN, Green Bay, WI., Buffalo, NY, and Burlington, VT, are among the cities in the U.S. that have the highest chance for a white Christmas.

"It tends to stay colder across the northern tier during the day and night, so when snow falls, it's less likely to melt," AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

Farther south, Chicago has less than a 40 percent chance of having a white Christmas.

"By the time Christmas comes around, there is a pronounced temperature difference from north to south [across the Midwest]," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews said. "The 'refrigeration' needed to keep the snow from melting is less reliable in Chicago compared to somewhere like International Falls, MN."

While December is not typically the snowiest month for Denver, it is the month with the lowest average high temperature. This means that any snow that falls may be less likely to melt. Denver has nearly a 50 percent chance of a white Christmas.

Meanwhile, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., have less than a 25 percent chance of having a white Christmas. Mild air from the Atlantic Ocean plays a role in the low probability.

In the West, Seattle also has less than a 25 percent chance at a white Christmas due to the influence of milder air from the Pacific Ocean. However, snow can still often be seen by Seattle residents, since the Washington Cascades have more than a 75 percent chance of a white Christmas.

There is a very low chance of a white Christmas in San Francisco to Los Angeles as well as across central and southern Florida.

But based on the recent forecast from the National Weather Service, Scotland County may beat the odds in 2012.

Forecasters called for a 100% chance of precipitation on December 19th, with rain expected to turn to snow after midnight. Accumulation is expected to be up to the three inches.

The National Weather Service in the Quad Cities has issued a Winter Storm Watch for December 19th and 20th due to the combination of high winds and the chance of three to six inches of snowfall over the 48-hour period.

That's because the NWS also is calling for a 60% chance of additional snow on Thursday.

It appears the key to a white Christmas will be temperatures over the next five days. The forecast isn't calling for any additional precipitation. However sunny conditions over the weekend could bring the temperature above freezing and start the snow melt before December 25th.

Fans of a white Christmas will be watching that thermometer over the weekend, hoping it stays low enough to keep the snow around through Tuesday.

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