The Washington Post

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

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 (

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 (

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 the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.
Show Comments
Most Read

At a Glance


19° /32°
Drop 40%


19° /24°


10° /24°


18° /35°
Drop 50%


31° /47°
Drop 70%


32° /46°
Drop 20%
National Airport

Right Now

Washington, D.C., Snow Tracker

Current Snow Total
Record Most Snow
Record Least Snow
(1997-98, 1972-73)
Last Winter's Snow Total

D.C. Area Almanac

Avg. High
Avg. Low
Rec. High
Rec. Low

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.