For millions of people hoping for a white Christmas this year, AccuWeather.com Chief Long Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi has good news, especially for residents of the East.
Bastardi says that more than 50 percent of the contiguous U.S. may be covered with an inch or more of snow on Christmas Day, which is quite a feat considering the average coverage is usually between 25 and 35 percent.
Looking at the current snowcover across the country, it is evident that we have a long way to go in order to get more than half of the country whitened by Christmas.
This map, courtesy of the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center, shows snowcover across the United States as of Dec. 2, 2010.
However, Bastardi says that over the next few weeks, a series of storms will track west to east across the country, bringing enough snow to at least cover the ground in some areas of the Midwest and East that are lacking snow at the moment.
One such storm will bring a "healthy" snowcover to areas from the northern Plains to the lower Midwest this weekend, while snow even falls all the way east into the Virginias.
Another storm of significance for the middle and eastern parts of the country could follow late next week or next weekend.
He also points out that one of these storms over the next two or three weeks has potential to be a "blockbuster," or the kind of storm that will dump 6-12 inches of snow from Washington, D.C., to Boston and is accompanied by 30- to 40-mph winds. Currently, mid-December looks to be the most likely time that this blockbuster storm would take shape.
Bastardi adds that it will only take one big storm like this or a train of several "smaller" storms to increase the percentage of snow cover across the U.S. to more than 50 by Christmas. If and after the snow is laid down across the lower Midwest and mid-Atlantic, the trick will be having enough cold air in place to keep the snow from melting by Christmas Day.
Since August, Bastardi has been predicting a colder-than-normal December for the eastern part of the country. He still sees a chance for the cold to hold on long enough to provide a white Christmas for much of the East and areas north of Interstate 70 across the Plains.
Bastardi gives a region-by-region analysis for a white Christmas across the U.S.
A pattern change will usher in cooler air and rain to the Northwest this week.
Autumn officially starts at 10:29 p.m. EDT on Monday, but it will not feel like autumn in some parts of the U.S.
Fung-wong will spread heavy rainfall across Eastern China, South Korea and Japan this week.
The peak of hurricane season, among other things, arrives in the fall.
A brief warmup is in store for residents of the Northeast this weekend before more fall-like conditions return.
Fung-wong brings flooding rainfall across Philippines and Taiwan.
West Yellowstone Montana (1983)
Minus 6 degrees (F) (Record for month is minus 9 degrees in continental U.S. This was also recorded at West Yellowstone).
Charleston, SC (1989)
Hurricane Hugo intensified throughout the day as it moved northwestward toward Charleston. Hugo made landfall just before midnight (Sept. 22) over Sullivans Island, north of Charleston, with winds estimated between 130 and 150 mph northeast of the eye. Central pressure at the time of landfall was 934 MB or 27.58 inches. Winds gusted from 100-119 mph in downtown Charleston. The storm surge northeast of Charleston reached 20 feet, destroying most beach homes on the Barrier Islands.
Casper, WY (1994)
Temperature drops from 78 to 33 in 24 hours. 3" of snow accompanied the temperature plunge.