Is Global Warming Killing White Christmases?

By travel
December 22, 2011, 6:26:36 AM EST

From the WeatherMatrix Blog by Meteorologist Jesse Ferrell:

Every year we, the media, dust off the "NCDC Historical Chances of a White Christmas Map" (the AccuWeather version of which is shown below). We've been doing it so long now, I wondered how up-to-date the data was. It turns out, it was created by NCDC in 1995 based on the 1969-1981 climate normals, meaning some of the data was over 50 years old!


NCDC defines these 30-year periods as the "normal" or "average" temperature that you hear quoted by meteorologists. Every ten years, they recalculate them, so these stats were two versions behind. We had our climatologists recalculate them for major U.S. cities. Here's what we found for current probabilities of having 1 inch snow depth on Christmas morning (with the disclaimer that I have not personally vetted these numbers):


Of these twelve cities, half saw a reduction in their chance of a White Christmas, but 33% actually saw an increase in snowier times (check marks above). The cities losing more of a chance of a White Christmas were Philadelphia, Raleigh, Denver, and Chicago, all losing 3%, Richmond, VA at -4%, and the worst was Omaha, Nebraska, which now has 11% less of a chance of a White Christmas than it did in 1990.

Climate Origins of a White Christmas

Better news for the kids and the young at heart in Cincinnati, OH (+2%), New York City (+3%), Columbus at +4%, and finally Saint Louis, Missouri has seen its chance increased by 10%. Of course, people define White Christmases differently, and none of this "average" stuff means much when you already have a forecast for this year.


Many northern U.S. residents assume they may see snow for Christmas; however, it seems to be changing each year. Could global warming be making white Christmases a thing of the past? Valerie Smock has the details.

Report a Typo

Continue Reading on >


Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

More Weather News