Christmas Snow Chances

Posted at 10:47 AM, Dec 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-21 10:47:44-05

It’s the most popular question for meteorologists this time of year…

“Will we have a white Christmas?”

Let’s first ask… What is a “white Christmas”?

A few flurries, snow all day, a blizzard, the leftover snow from the day before…?

There is an actual definition. The NWS defines it as “a morning snow depth of 1” or greater (measured at 7 am EST).” Bottom line… snow does not automatically equal a “white Christmas”. It is possible to have a white Christmas with no snowflakes actually falling on the 25th. It is also possible to have snowfall on the 25th and it not be a white Christmas.

So what about Coastal Virginia?

It’s rare. The last time Norfolk had a white Christmas (based on the official definition) was in 1966. At 7 AM on December 25th, 1966 there was 4″ of snow on the ground. Climate data gives us about a 5% chance each year.

That may leave you saying, “What about 2010?”

Well… That’s where the things get a bit tricky. In 2010 Norfolk reported 0.8″ of snow on December 25th. White Christmas right? Wrong! That snow fell the night of the 25th and continued for the 26th and 27th. In fact, Norfolk ended up with 14.2″ of snow with that storm. Norfolk’s 3rd largest storm total snowfall on record. So while flakes fell and accumulated on Christmas Day in 2010, it was not a white Christmas.

What about 2016?

Chances are not looking good. Highs on Christmas Eve and Day will likely reach the mid 50s with overnight lows in the low 40s. We may see some rain showers, but snow chances… not likely.

-Meteorologist Myles Henderson