Jesse Ferrell

Share |

My White Christmases Past in PA, NC

December 24, 2009; 8:08 AM ET

As always on Christmas, I like to take a look at what the weather has been on past Christmases since I've lived here in Central PA (State College).

But first, my mom in the foothills of North Carolina will also be celebrating a White Christmas this year after a major snowfall there, probably the biggest they've ever seen in December. I only remember two White Christmases growing up there in my youth: 1981 (snow on Christmas Day, a "true" White Christmas) and 1989 (snow on the ground). I scanned in the picture below of me picking out a Christmas tree on Dec. 8th, 1989 and also the picture that sticks in my head, our Christmas lights on snow, I assume taken on Christmas Day. I can't believe that was 20 years ago!

We also had a White Christmas there in 1993 (snow on the ground), when I was going to college at UNC-Asheville. Here's a photo of my car (decorated for Christmas) taken on Dec. 20, 1993 and Christmas decorations in downtown Wilkesboro, NC on the 22nd.

In addition, looking at the records for Hickory, NC, the closest climate station, it looks like there was 5.9" of snow on Dec. 23rd 1998 which was presumably still on the ground for Christmas; but I was living in PA at the time.

SIDENOTE: The coastal Carolinas got a historic snowfall on December 23, 1989 but it didn't affect the mountains where I lived. See this NWS statement and backup.

Now, back to Central PA. Looking back at my blog entries... in 2007, we had rain, and plenty of it -- with considerable local flooding on December 23rd. In 2006, it actually snowed on Christmas, when I was in Milesburg, PA at my parents-in-law's house, but didn't accumulate. We had just missed it - I took a photo where the ground was white 2 days before Christmas but a heat wave with rain afterwards melted it all before Christmas. And way back in 2005, my first year of blogging for, we had a little freezing rain Christmas morning, something that may be repeated this year in a bigger way on this Friday Christmas:

Here's how we've stacked up for temperatures and snowfall since 2000 in State College, PA (based on records from Penn State). This year should go down as the 3rd snowiest December so far, not including 2002 where 7 inches fell on Christmas morning (our only true "White Christmas" since I moved here in 1997).

SNOWFALL RECORDS (Pre-Christmas = December Up Through 12/25):

2009: 13.0" Pre-Christmas Snow; 2" On Ground 12/25 (Estimated)

2008: 3.8" Pre-Christmas Snow, 0" On Ground 12/25

2007: 8.0" Pre-Christmas Snow, 0" On Ground 12/25

2006: 0.4" Pre-Christmas Snow, 0" On Ground 12/25 (Non-Accum. Snow Fell on Christmas)

2005: 15.0" Pre-Christmas Snow, 2" On Ground 12/25

2004: 0.4" Pre-Christmas Snow, 0" On Ground 12/25

2003: 18.1" Pre-Christmas Snow, 0" On Ground 12/25 (Most Pre-Christmas Snow)

2002: 19.3" Pre-Christmas Snow, 7" On Ground 12/25* (Snow Fell on Christmas)

2001: 0.8" of Pre-Christmas Snow, 0" On Ground 12/25

2000: 7.5" of Pre-Christmas Snow, 3" On Ground 12/25

1999: 0" of Pre-Christmas Snow, 0" On Ground 12/25 (Least Pre-Christmas Snow)

1998: 0.8" of Pre-Christmas Snow, 0" On Ground 12/25

1997: 3.5" of Pre-Christmas Snows, 0" On Ground 12/25

*Officially 1" at midnight Christmas Eve; snow fell during night & morning

So counting this year, I've experienced 4 White Christmases here in State College, PA, and perhaps 3 in Boomer, NC, though of those 7 only 2 (1981 & 2002) were "true" White Christmases with heavy snow falling on the morning of December 25th.



AVERAGE: 22/35

2009: 28/33 (Estimate)

2008: 22/32

2007: 25/41

2006: 29/41

2005: 29/37

2004: 10/22

2003: 26/32

2002: 27/33

2001: 19/25

2000: 10/18 (Coldest)

1999: 12/27

1998: 14/28

1997: 36/43 (Warmest)

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


Comments left here should adhere to the Community Guidelines. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

More The WeatherMatrix Blog

  • 30th Anniversary: The Great Cold Outbreak of 1985

    January 21, 2015; 12:19 PM ET

    The cold outbreak of Jan. 21, 1985, was here. Temperatures had fallen below zero across the Deep South and were in the single digits on the Carolina and Gulf coasts.

About This Blog

Jesse Ferrell
Jesse Ferrell's WeatherMatrix blog covers extreme weather worldwide with a concentration on weather photos and Social Media.