“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.” The Bing Crosby classic captures my feelings perfectly each Christmas. I just hope I’m not left dreaming.
Did you know that not every Christmas with snow is actually a “white Christmas?” Let me explain.
Meteorologically speaking, a “white Christmas” is one with at least an inch of snow on the ground at dawn on Christmas Day. In other words the snow depth measurement must be an inch or greater. By that definition it’s a little tougher to achieve the coveted white Christmas status.
New 30-year averages also mean new white Christmas chances. NOAA recently released updated historical odds based on data between 1991 and 2020. The map below shows the probability of having at least an inch of snow on the ground at 7 AM on December 25th over the past three decades. Actual conditions, however, can vary greatly any given Christmas Day.
A white Christmas is pretty much a lock for the mountain ranges like the Rockies and the Sierra Nevadas. The Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania and West Virginia don’t have bad odd. The northern tier of the US also has pretty good chances including some of us in Vermont and Upstate New York.
Taking a closer look at our chances in the News10 area – spots in the higher elevations and at slightly higher latitudes have a better chance of experiencing a white Christmas. Look at the 30-year odds in Big Moose, Indian Lake, and North Creek compared to Hudson. Chances are a little better than 50-50 outside of the Green Mountains in Vermont, also for the Catskills and the Saratoga area.
Albany’s chances are roughly 40%. The last white Christmas was actually last year. The Capital Region woke up to an inch of snow on the ground. Prior to 2021, Christmas 2017 was the last “white one” with a snow depth of five inches. There was a long stretch in the 2010s where we had to keep dreaming of a white Christmas.
Christmas Day 1966 holds the top spot for the greatest snow depth with 19 inches. And Albany picked up another five inches of snow during the day. (Perfection – snow on Christmas!) Albany’s snowiest Christmas was 20 years when over 19 inches fell but the morning snow depth was only trace. So Christmas 2002 was not technically a white one.