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    White Christmas for Some, Green or Muddy for Others

    December 19, 2011; 6:25 AM ET
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    This graphic shows the likelihood for a white Christmas this year. It will be updated every day leading up to Christmas.

    Children and the young at heart across the United States are beaming with excitement for the holidays, and there is one question that many of them have in common: Will it be a white Christmas?

    A recent poll on AccuWeather.com's Facebook Page showed that people have different ideas of what makes a white Christmas. Some AccuWeather.com Facebook fans said if there is falling snow then it is a white Christmas, while others said snow on ground means a white Christmas.

    AccuWeather.com's white Christmas outlook is using the definition of a snow depth of an inch or more on Christmas Day.

    Northeast

    "Northern New England has a decent shot at a white Christmas, especially over the higher terrain, with clipper systems expected to lay down some snow leading up to the holiday. Northern Vermont, northern New Hampshire and portions of Maine are especially likely," according to Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

    RELATED:

    Why We Hope for a White Christmas (But Probably Won't Have One)

    More Talk of Storms Through Christmas

    Is Global Warming Killing White Christmases?

    It has been too mild for a white Christmas in the mid-Atlantic and southern New England. However, there is the chance that a storm develops along the Atlantic coast Christmas weekend, creating a last-minute chance at snow for portions of the Northeast coast.

    As of now, episodes of rain are anticipated for the mid-Atlantic with stormy weather leading up to Christmas.

    Midwest/Northern Plains

    "The northern Plains has a shot," said Sosnowski. Again, this will rely on where storms track from now through Christmas and whether enough cold air will remain to allow the snow cover to stay put.

    This map of the historical chances of a white Christmas from NOAA has not been updated with new normals information from 1981-2001. A table found below has probabilities for specific cities with the latest information, compiled by AccuWeather.com Climatologist Jim Rourke.

    "Even if snow falls with a storm early next week in the Midwest, not much may be left around by Christmas due to melting," added Sosnowski. This is also dependent on the amount of snow that falls. If a foot of snow piles up, there is a better chance that snow sticks around through the holiday.

    With several rounds of rain across the lower Ohio Valley, it could end up being a muddy Christmas.

    Rockies

    There is already a decent snow cover in the Rockies all the way south through the Four Corners. Recent rounds of hefty snow have left northern Arizona and northern Mexico among the areas with a very good chance at a white Christmas.

    Even for some of the lower elevations and some communities to the lee of the Rockies, there will be a good chance at a white Christmas.

    "There will be some cold shots and chances for upslope snow, so we have increased the chances that Denver will have a white Christmas on the outlook map," according to Expert Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

    It will be a great holiday for people planning ski trips to the Rockies.

    West

    The Intermountain West is likely to have a white Christmas, including the mountains of Southern California, the Sierra and the Cascades.

    The Pacific coast will have too much mild air around for any snow leading up to Christmas.

    Southern Plains/South

    It is looking pretty certain that the southern Plains through the Southeast will have a green Christmas with too much mild air in place.

    The probabilities of a White Christmas, an inch of snow on the ground or more, for selected U.S. cities, by Jim Rourke. This is based on data from 1981-2010.

    Comparison to Historical Information

    The outlook for a white Christmas this year lines up with historical data. The southern Plains and the Southeast have a very low chance at a white Christmas, while the Intermountain West, Rockies and northern Plains have the greatest chance. Portions of the Upper Midwest as well as northern New England will have some chances at a white Christmas leading up to the holiday. It is not entirely out of the question yet for parts of the Northeast coast, so stay tuned to the latest outlook.

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