Dreaming of a white Christmas?

Weather Blog

‘Twas the week before Christmas, in the year twenty-twenty
A year to forget with COVID a plenty.
December’s been grey with nothing more than a flurry
Leaving Christmas snow lovers in a state of worry.
With temperatures warming in the days before Christmas
Our hopes for a snow storm may be amiss.
Still, we turn to Chris Yates hoping for a forecast of snow
But heck, he’s a weatherman, what does he know?

Well….not much, at least not more than ten days out. What we do know is what we’ve seen in past Christmases and can at least give you the historical probability of seeing a white Christmas in Central Illinois.

What is a white Christmas?

A white Christmas is defined as having at least 1 inch of snow on the ground on Dec. 25. Snow does not need to be falling for it to be considered a white Christmas.

How often do we see a white Christmas in Central Illinois?

Historically, Central Illinois has a 25-40 percent chance of seeing a white Christmas. When looking at the U.S. Climate Normals, which runs from 1981-2010, we can see how often the area has had at least one inch of snow on the ground on Christmas. Over that 30 year period, the area had 8 to 11 white Christmases. Here are the probabilities for various Central Illinois communities…

Peoria – 35%
Bloomington/Normal – 35%
Galesburg – 34%
Pontiac – 25%
Mackinaw – 32%
Galva – 38%
Kewanee – 35%
Princeton – 37%
Peru/La Salle – 36%

As one might expect, white Christmases are more common across the Northern Plains, the upper Midwest and in Rocky and Appalachian Mountain Ranges. You can see an interactive map of the historical probabilities here.

How are our chances this year?

(Updated Thursday, December 17th)
Right now it appears our chances of seeing a white Christmas in 2020 is low, but not all hope is lost. As I mentioned in a recent Facebook post, even though the weather pattern is trending warmer early next week the pattern could change around Christmas to bring colder temperatures and a shot of snow to Central Illinois…an at the buzzer Hail Mary.

The European model ensemble, shown above, is giving Central Illinois a 10-15% chance of receiving an inch of snow through Christmas Day. Meanwhile the American GFS has shown a little more optimism in bringing in snow with the cold front on Wednesday, but the overall chances for an inch of snow remain relatively low.

Other Christmas Day Stats

Source: NWS Lincoln

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