What U.S. cities will have white Christmas dreams realized or shattered?

December 18, 2013

Much of the U.S. has witnessed a cold December and, frequently, snow cover has spanned more of the country than most past years this decade at the same time.  With a week to go, what areas have the best chance of awakening to a blanket of snow Christmas Day?


U.S. snow cover analyzed this morning (NOAA)

The big loser may be the East Coast – from the Mid-Atlantic into southern New England.  Unseasonably warm air surges up the I-95 corridor this weekend, pushing temperatures into the 60s perhaps as far north as New England.  So locations such as New York City, Providence, and Boston, recipients of substantial snow in recent days, are likely to see their supply vanish.  And it’s unlikely to be replenished before Christmas Day.


Temperature difference from normal predicted for Sunday afternoon by the GFS model (WeatherBell.com)

The winner is likely to be the Midwest – from Joplin to St. Louis to Chicago to Detroit, and especially to the north and west, where a major winter storm will dump heavy snow this weekend.  Chicago and Detroit may fall right on the rain/snow line, with rain during the early phase of the storm, likely changing to snow before ending.  In these areas, there’s a good chance enough snow falls as the storm pulls away to leave behind a covering that remains Christmas morning.

Locks for a White Christmas: Minneapolis, Green Bay, Duluth, Madison, Traverse City

Likely White Christmas: Chicago, Milwaukee, Des Moines

Maybe White Christmas: Kansas City, St. Louis, Joplin, Detroit, Buffalo, Cleveland

Unlikely White Christmas: Springfield (Mo.), Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Albany, and south and east


An animated projection of snow cover from European model showing today, Sunday morning, and Christmas morning (WeatherBell.com)

Overall, areas that typically get a White Christmas cash in once again this year, whereas locations – with the exception of Kansas – that have historically low chances are unlikely to enjoy a rare treat.


Historic probability of a White Christmas across the U.S. (National Climatic Data Center)
Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.
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