White Christmas 2018 forecast: Who has the best shot at snow?

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
December 23, 2018, 4:47:20 AM EST

Following far-reaching snowstorms from November and early December, a lack of Arctic air will generally limit the chances of a white Christmas to the northern tier states and the mountains of the West for Dec. 25, 2018.

The standard for a white Christmas is an inch of snow on the ground during the morning, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Historical white Christmas

This map shows the probability of a white Christmas (1 inch of snow on the ground or greater), based on climatology and not anticipated conditions for Dec. 25, 2018.

Most of the storms that have the potential to put down heavy snow in the days leading up to Christmas will roll in from the Pacific Ocean and blast the Cascades, Sierra Nevada and parts of the Rockies.

Along the West coast, the best chance for having snow on the ground will be at or above 3,000 feet in the northern Cascades and at or above 5,500 feet in the northern Sierra Nevada.

Most of the snow will already be on the ground prior to Christmas Day in the West, with some exceptions. A storm that dips southward across California from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day may spread some snow to intermediate elevations of the interior Southwest.

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Farther to the east, a weak storm is forecast to produce some snow over the Upper Midwest, Ohio Valley, northern mid-Atlantic and eastern Great Lakes on Sunday and in New England on Sunday night and Christmas Eve.

Static X

Another weak system may follow on its heels, bringing a narrow swath of mainly light snow or a wintry mix to the upper part of the Mississippi Valley on Monday night and to areas farther east over the Midwest on Christmas Day.

Christmas 12.23 AM

These two systems have a chance of bringing enough snow to fulfill the minimum 1-inch requirement near and north of Interstate 80.

However, the snow may have to survive temperatures at or above freezing for several hours during the day on Christmas Eve.

In the East, the best bet for a white Christmas will be over interior parts of northern New England and some of the higher elevations of the central and southern Appalachians. This will generally be from old snow.

White Christmas 12.23 AM

South of these areas, along the immediate Pacific coast and much of the mid-Atlantic and southern New England coasts, a white Christmas is not likely at this time.

Download the free AccuWeather app to check the Christmas forecast for your area.

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