Latest Outlook for a White Christmas This Year

December 23, 2011; 8:59 AM ET
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This year's white Christmas outlook across the U.S. can be described as topsy-turvy.

A white Christmas is possible for portions of the Texas Panhandle but unlikely for portions of the northern Plains, where there is typically a very high chance for a white Christmas.

In fact, the chance for a white Christmas is more than 75 percent based on history, while the chance for a white Christmas in the Texas Panhandle ranges from less than 25 percent to 25 to 50 percent.

"The storm track has been pushed down into the Southwestern states, allowing cold air to come down farther south in the Rockies (this year). This has set the stage for snow events in the Texas Panhandle," according to Expert Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

The most recent snowstorm for the Texas Panhandle was a blizzard that struck earlier this week. The blizzard dumped a record snowfall of 7 inches in Dalhart, Texas.

The storm fizzled out and ran into much milder air as it reached heavily populated areas of the Midwest such as Chicago and Detroit.

"The northern Plains and the southern Prairies (of Canada) have generally been in a dry pattern. Storms have been missing these areas with not much precipitation falling at all," said Anderson.

The lack of stormy weather for the northern Plains is due to the "displaced storm track" to the south.

Anderson continued, "It has been mild in the Northeast with a lack of blocking. A blocking pattern would allow cold air to come into the region ahead of storms."

The ground is not frozen in the Northeast, and that is another issue that will impact whether there is a white Christmas in the region.

"Any snow that falls in the Northeast is melting more quickly because the ground is much warmer than it typically is."

The lack of sustained cold is also preventing typical heavy snow around the Great Lakes this time of the year.


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