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Stormier pattern increasing white Christmas odds

by jmaloni
Wed, Dec 19th 2012 03:05 pm
Photo courtesy of AccuWeather.com.
Photo courtesy of AccuWeather.com.

by Meghan Evans, meteorologist for AccuWeather.com

AccuWeather reports while some areas of the U.S. already have a high chance of a white Christmas* this year, an active winter storm track across the country is increasing the odds for others.

Mountains in West Have Highest Chance of White Christmas

While a western storm train continues this week and into next week, the Cascades in Washington and Oregon, the Sierra in California and the Rockies are expected to have a white Christmas this year.

As much as 4 feet of snow has blanketed the mountains of the west over the past several days, so there is a substantial snow cover.

Flagstaff, Ariz., has a decent chance of a white Christmas. There is currently a snow depth of a foot on the ground from heavy snow that fell last weekend and a couple of inches that fell through Tuesday night. While some of the snow will melt, there is yet another snow opportunity for fresh snow on Christmas Eve into early Christmas Day.

"Flagstaff could have around half of a foot of snow left on the ground by Christmas Day," AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews said.

While there is not much snow on the ground now in Salt Lake City, Utah, snow may arrive on Christmas Eve. That may be just enough to provide a white Christmas. Denver will receive a windswept snow on Wednesday, before a second round of snow may occur Christmas Eve night into Christmas Day.

Good Chance for a White Christmas Across Upper Midwest

Meanwhile, a huge storm will bring blizzard conditions from the Rockies to the central Plains and the upper Midwest during the middle of this week. Cities from Omaha to Green Bay will receive substantial snow amounts from the storm.

Whether areas impacted by the storm have a white Christmas or not will depend on where cold air sticks around to keep snow on the ground.

The upper Midwest, including the upper peninsula of Michigan, Wisconsin and portions of lower Michigan may stay cold enough for a white Christmas. In fact, reinforcing cold air and lake-effect snow downwind of the Great Lakes through the weekend will increase the chances for many communities.

One to two feet of snow may blanket the typical snow belts downwind of the Great Lakes. The chance for a white Christmas may be lower for the central Plains, including portions of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa, where temperatures may warm up enough to melt snow.

Northern New England May Have White Christmas, Mid-Atlantic Not Likely

Northern New England and areas to the lee of the Great Lakes have the best chance for a white Christmas in the east. Snow will continue falling across northern New England on Wednesday, while a storm departs the Northeast.

More snow will arrive with a storm across northern New England late this week and into the weekend. This storm will drag much colder air into the Northeast, triggering lake-effect snow downwind of the Great Lakes.

It does not appear likely that New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., will have a white Christmas.

* - Since many people may have a different idea of what constitutes a white Christmas, it is being defined in this story as a snow depth of an inch or more on Christmas Day.

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