What are the odds of a White Christmas? A detailed look at local climatology

So…its getting that time of the year that our forecast office begins to field questions like this...

 

What are the chances of a White Christmas?

 

Well, a White Christmas is definitely something that is very rare for our part of the world. If you look at the image below of the entire country the percentage of White Christmas for Western North Carolina is less than 10 percent here in the lower elevations and slightly higher in the North Carolina High Country


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Digging further… after looking at data from the National Climatic Data Center here are some percentages for towns in our coverage area of having 1 inch of snow on the ground on average. Remember, this is based on a 30-year average…


Marion: <1 %

Taylorsville: 3 %

Morganton: 3 %

Hickory: 3 %

Lenoir: 3 %

Lincolnton: 3 %

Shelby: 1 %

Forest City: 2 %


Numbers seem to be pretty uniform across the coverage area, from 1-3 % chance of having one inch of snow measured on Christmas Day. In relation here are some percentage of cities just outside of the coverage area…

 

Charlotte: 2 %

Asheville: 7 %

Boone: 19 %

Wilkesboro: 7 %

Winston-Salem: 3 %


Needless to say, a White Christmas here in the Western Carolinas outside of the higher terrain is a once-in-a-generation occurance., so the odds are very low yearly that a White Christmas occurs. The last White Christmas for sections of the coverage was just seven years ago, in 2010, an event that laid down anywhere from 3-8 inches of snow across the Foothills and Western Piedmont.

 

So, what do we see here for Christmas 2017? We are still 12 days away from the holiday and way too far away from making any kind of call on what kind of weather we will see. The margin of error in a long range forecast it way too big to even consider making…any forecasts that you may already see on social media is just foolish at this point…

Posted here at the bottom are links to both the NCDC and State Climate Center in Raleigh on information from the 2010 Christmas snow and the 30-year averages...

 

https://noaa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Embed/index.html?webmap=99db916356584e4289e85d64d1ae3fa0&extent=-152.182,10.8189,-39.3495,57.8283&zoom=true&home=true&scale=true&disable_scroll=true&theme=light&level=1

 

https://climate.ncsu.edu/climate/winter/event_details?e=510