Chances of a White Christmas

What are the chances of a White Christmas (defined as at least an inch of snow on the ground on Christmas Day)? The National Climatic Data Center has updated their US map to show the current 1981-2010 averaging period. The odds are high in the Rocky Mountains, the upper Midwest, and the Northeast. However, a White Christmas is rarely, if ever, seen in much of the southern half of the US or along the West Coast.

We did a similar map with more detail for Illinois last year (second map).  It should come as no surprise that the highest odds are in northern Illinois.  In general, the odds are about 40-60 percent in the northern third of Illinois, 20-40 percent in central Illinois, and 0-20 percent in southern Illinois.

There can be large differences from site to site. Snowfall is notoriously difficult to measures with two nearby sites having different results due to exposure to sun and wind.

Chances of a White Christmas across the US. National Climatic Data Center (NOAA).
Chances of a White Christmas across the US. National Climatic Data Center (NOAA).
odds of a white Christmas
The odds of a white Christmas in Illinois, based on 1981-2010 data. Click to enlarge.
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