Plenty of us dream of a white Christmas — thanks so much, Irving Berlin — but what are the odds of actually getting one?
For it to be considered a white Christmas anywhere in the lower 48 states, at least an inch of snow has to be on the ground on the morning of Dec. 25, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It doesn't necessarily have to fall on Christmas Day. But that certainly adds to the holiday cheer.
If you're hoping for snow during Christmas, you may want to consider moving to a place where, historically, the odds are pretty high.
The historical chances of a white Christmas
The above map was created using the 1981-2010 climate normals, which are the last three decades' worth of the average of several different climatological measurements, including snowfall. There's an interactive version of this map where you can zoom in on areas around the country if you really want to get a sense of your general area's white Christmas chances.
As you might have guessed, from a historical perspective, mountainous areas and spots bordering Canada are among the most likely to experience a white Christmas. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, "Most of Idaho, Minnesota, Maine, upstate New York, the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and, of course, the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada Mountains all have a high probability of seeing a white Christmas. And, Aspen, Colorado, is one of about a dozen locations boasting a 100 percent historical probability of seeing a white Christmas."
Of course, "probability" is the key word in all this. This is historical data, and the actual year-to-year conditions can be very different than what this map shows. It only shows where snow is historically likely to be, not where it actually will be.
Well, apart from Aspen, apparently.
This year's white Christmas forecast
If it's too late to move or travel to those historically favored spots, here's a look at where snow might be falling this year:
According to weather.com, snow is already on the ground in a number of areas around the country where snow was likely to fall, and that's a good sign for a white Christmas. If you're in "a swath from North Dakota to the northern Great Lakes, parts of New York state and northern New England" and "mountainous terrain from the Cascades and Sierra Nevada into the Rockies," enjoy your snow on Christmas in addition to the presents and good cheer.
As for the rest of the country, the historical odds map holds true with weather.com's forecasts. In addition to the aforementioned areas, Denver and Minneapolis are likely candidates for snow on Christmas, while Nebraska and Iowa may see snow. Even a stretch of the Tennessee-North Carolina border could have a white Christmas. If you live south of that border, your chances of snow are pretty much nil.
Accuweather more or less backs up weather.com's forecast, though they're less keen on snow falling anywhere south of central West Virginia and the northern edges of Kentucky, let alone into the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. Indeed, for much of the Southeast, Accuweather forecasts a warmer-than-normal holiday weekend.
"The greatest chance of a white Christmas will be across the Midwest, Great Lakes, northern New England and the Rockies," AccuWeather forecaster Paul Pastelok said.