Published On: Thu, Dec 19th, 2013

Who will have a ‘White Christmas’ this year? Fairbanks, Alaska is a sure bet says Cornell climatologist


Jessica Spaccio, a climatologist with the NOAA-funded Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University, crunched numbers from the past 50 years of weather observations – from 1963 through 2012 – to calculate the best places for snow on the ground come Christmas and a dry drive to those New Year’s Eve parties. From Alaska to Amarillo to Atlantic City, here’s how she sees it.

Spaccio says:

Public domain image/Wikimedia Commons

Public domain image/Wikimedia Commons

“If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, Pinkham Notch, N.H., has a 93 percent probability of fulfilling your dreams. Another high probability is Caribou, Maine, at 90 percent. If you’d rather not deal with the snow, stick closer to the coast: Lewes, Del. (5 percent), Salisbury, Md. (7 percent), Philadelphia, Pa. (8 percent), Washington, D.C. (8 percent), Atlantic City, N.J. (9 percent), Dover, Del. (9 percent).

“Looking outside the Northeast, Alaska is the clear choice for snow – Fairbanks has a 100 percent probability. Alternatively, a few cities have 0 percent probability: Augusta, Ga., Las Vegas, and Columbia, S.C.

“If you’re planning to hit the streets in New York City on New Year’s Eve, there’s a 50 percent probability of precipitation. Not as bad as Buffalo, N.Y. with 66 percent probability. If you’re looking to stay dry, weather speaking only, Las Vegas is the place to be, with only 2 percent probability for precipitation.

“These statistics are based on the previous 50 years of historical data. They provide a best estimate without looking at current conditions and forecast models. The U.S. has already seen some snow this year, so some cities are already white. It’s also been an active period for storms, so even if the probabilities are low for your city – don’t give up hope – Mother Nature always surprises us.”

Snow on the ground for Christmas Day – Select U.S. cities

City Percent probability of 1″ or more of snow on the ground on Dec. 25
Albuquerque, NM 2
Amarillo, TX 12
Atlantic City, NJ 9
Augusta, GA 0
Baltimore, MD 10
Boise, ID 26
Boston, MA 19
Boulder, CO 44
Burlington, VT 68
Casper, WY 47
Charleston, WV 23
Chicago, IL 42
Cleveland, OH 46
Columbia, SC 0
Concord, NH 69
Des Moines, IA 44
Detroit, MI 69
Dover, DE 9
Duluth, MN 96
Eugene, OR 5
Fairbanks, AK 100
Flagstaff, AZ 60
Grand Forks, ND 85
Hartford, CT 47
Helena, MT 61
Huntsville, AL 2
Indianapolis, IN 28
Las Vegas, NV 0
Little Rock, AR 4
Louisville, KY 14
Madison, WS 70
Memphis, TN 6
New York, NY 10
Oklahoma City, OK 6
Omaha, NE 34
Philadelphia, PA 8
Portland, ME 62
Providence, RI 24
Raleigh, NC 2
Richmond, VA 5
Salt Lake City, UT 58
Seattle, WA 8
Sioux Falls, SD 60
St. Louis, MO 26
Syracuse, NY 66
Topeka, KS 18
Washington, D.C. 8

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