It’s too early to look at weather models to predict whether or not the Chicago area will see a white Christmas this year, said Ed Fenelon, meteorologist for the National Weather Service, Chicago region.
However, historically, the Chicago region has only a 45 percent chance of seeing a postcard snowy Christmas, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).
What makes a Christmas white? The National Climatic Data Center defines a White Christmas as one with an inch or more of snow on the ground at 6 a.m.
The last white Christmas in our region was in 2010, when 2-4 inches fell on Christmas Eve into Christmas Day.
Last Christmas saw a high temperature of 45 degrees, a low of 29 degrees and no precipitation.
Fenelon said there is a cold front with precipitation moving our way. "We're seeing suggestions by the atmospheric computer models that portions of the area may see snow or mixed rain and snow Sunday night, he said. There is also a chance of snow could occur on Monday evening into Tuesday morning.
The Midwest is currently experiencing a snow drought. NOAA reports the U.S. Lower 48 snowpack is a quarter the most recent 10 year average for early December.
Fenelon said areas up north in the snowbelt normally have about 4 inches of snow on the ground, but are bare this year.
Some interesting data regarding Christmas weather provided by Fenelon:
- There has never been an instance where over an inch of precipitation fell on Christmas in the Chicago region. The highest amount of precipitation on Christmas occurred in 1909 and 1950 when 0.50 inches of precipitation fell. (Precipitation is the melted water equivalent of the snow.)
- The snowiest Christmas was in 1950 when 5.1 inches of snow fell on Christmas Day.
- The normal high for Christmas in Chicago is 32 degrees, which falls in the most frequent range.
- The highest temperature recorded on Christmas is 64 degrees set in 1982.
- The coldest high temperature on Christmas is -5 degrees which occurred in 1983.
- The Chicago region had a white Christmas for three years straight recently, 2008, 2009, and 2010.