White Christmas: Likely in Northern Tier, Mountain West
UPDATED December 24, 2013
UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Chad Merrill
The Northern Tier, parts of the Central U.S. and Mountain West are guaranteed a White Christmas while the Southern Tier will stay green on Wednesday.
The Mountain West, Northern Plains, Upper Mississippi Valley, Great Lakes and northern New England will wake up to a White Christmas this year. A solid snowpack will remain on the ground in the Mountain West and northern New England despite the sunshine on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a weak low pressure swiftly moving in from the Upper Mississippi Valley will bring 1 to 4 inches of snow on top of the 5 to 9 inches on the ground across the Great Lakes. Places like Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing, Mich., will be greeted snow in the air and snow on the ground Christmas Day.
The 1 to 3 inches of snow on the ground from the Oklahoma Panhandle to northwestern Kansas will remain on the ground through midday before a good deal of melting occurs. Highs topping out near 40 degrees will likely melt much of this existing snowpack, with a few shaded and north-facing landscapes still holding onto some snow before sunset.
The dusting of snow that whitened the ground today in northern Virginia and Maryland`s Blue Ridge into Central Pennsylvania will stay locked in place Christmas morning but will melt by midday with sunshine on the weather menu.
The West Coast, Southwest and Southern Tier are guaranteed a "Green Christmas" with no snow on the ground and no unusual late-December snow in the forecast through Wednesday.
By the way, the official definition of a "White Christmas" is at least 1 inch of snow on the ground the morning of Dec. 25. This does not necessarily mean that the snow fell on December 24 or 25.
Using more than 30 years of Christmas weather observations, government climatologists have produced general probabilities of a White Christmas. The best potential historically is the Mountain West, northern Great Plains, lake-effect snow belts and Interior Northeast.
Stampede Pass, Wash., Yellowstone National Park, Marquette, Mich., International Falls, Minn., and Adirondack Park in New York are typically guaranteed a White Christmas every year. In fact, Stampede Pass, Wash., in the Cascade Mountains east of Tacoma, has a 96 percent chance that there will be more than 10 inches of snow on the ground on December 25.
On the other hand, the chance for a White Christmas is almost nonexistent over the U.S. Southern Tier, with a less than five percent chance from southern California and Arizona to Florida and much of the Carolinas. A bit further northward from the higher terrain of northeastern Arizona into Kansas, eastward through Maryland, southeastern Pennsylvania and much of New Jersey, the "odds" increase to 10 to 25-percent chance on December 25.
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