Some places in U.S. -- mostly in the West -- expected to see white Christmas

By Nicole LoBiondo,
Some places in U.S. -- mostly in the West -- expected to see white Christmas
The famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is seen in New York City. Forecasters say that some locations in the United States will see a white Christmas this year -- but many places in the Northeast will not.  File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 21 -- The romanticized imagery of a white Christmas may be a reality for some and a mere fantasy for many across the United States as the holiday nears.

Some locations have been blanketed by recent snowfall from a parade of storms that has traversed the nation so far this December, but many may be wondering if they, too, will be paid a visit from Old Man Winter, especially come Christmas morning.


AccuWeather meteorologists have been keeping a close eye on the Christmas forecast as holiday travel escalates across the nation ahead of the holiday weekend -- as well as the parts of the nation where snow is most probable for a white Christmas this year. There will be a couple of pockets of the country that may get some last-minute help from Mother Nature just in time for the holiday.


AccuWeather's criteria for a white Christmas centers around having at least an inch of snow on the ground for the holiday -- a qualification that may be easy for some in the U.S. to achieve this Christmas.

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The West and Rockies

"For those with plans to hit the slopes of the mountainous western United States, there is good news this upcoming week, as waves of moisture streaming in from the Pacific should continue to build up snowpack," AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said.

From the Cascades to the Sierra Nevada, even the northern and central Rockies, there is a high probability Mother Nature will bring plenty of fresh snow late this week for a white Christmas that will leave many snow sports enthusiasts jumping for joy.

Historically, Denver has about a 38% chance of an inch of snow cover on Christmas morning. However, this year has been one for the record books in terms of the lack of snow there.

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Unfortunately, it seems the trend will continue, as the snowy conditions are expected to remain limited to the mountains west of the city. In fact, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Denver will see partly sunny skies with highs in the mid-50s -- nearly 10 degrees above normal for Christmastime.


Snow is expected across the high terrain in the West this coming weekend, and AccuWeather meteorologists are continuing to monitor the potential for a surge of cold air late week that could settle into the Pacific Northwest, bringing frigid conditions to the region.

"It is not out of the question for places like Seattle and Portland to see snowflakes mix with rain on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day," Buckingham said.

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Even if measurable snow doesn't fall, a few snowflakes flying around Seattle on Christmas would make for a festive atmosphere.

It's likely that the high terrain just outside of Los Angeles could feature white peaks by Christmas Day, as a rather stormy weather regime will bring multiple waves of precipitation into the region this week.

Upper Midwest and Great Lakes

"Residents in the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes region have gotten their fair share of snowfall so far this December leaving many expecting a white Christmas, but Mother Nature says, not so fast," AccuWeather Meteorologist Matt Benz said.

The record warmth and rainfall that doused the region after heavy snowfall on the 10th and 11th of December did a number on the snowpack.

Rochester, Minn., dropped from 7 inches of snow on the ground on Dec. 11 to no snow on the ground by Dec. 16. Historically, Rochester reports a white Christmas 78% of the time, with 2011 being the last Christmas when there was no snow on the ground.


"Temperatures are likely to stay cold enough this week to keep what little snow is left on ground alive through Christmas across the northern tier of the U.S. but if residents don't have snow currently, the chances of having a white Christmas are grim," Benz said.

An Alberta-type clipper system will deliver a round of accumulating snow to help pad the current snow base across North Dakota, northern Minnesota, far northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but some locations may fall short of the official white Christmas criteria of having at least 1 inch of snow on the ground.

However, places south of there are largely out of luck, AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said.

The chances of a white Christmas are lower than normal south of an area extending from Minneapolis, Green Bay, Wis., and southwest of Detroit on southward, Pastelok pointed out.

Another more robust storm is expected to cross the region into Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. While this storm can produce snow, it may not benefit many of those looking for a white Christmas, with the bulk of the snow falling well north of I-90.


"There will be a couple of opportunities for some snow across the Northeast this week as a few weak clipper-type storms move through the region, but any accumulating snow is expected mainly for interior areas from upstate New York into New England," Benz said.


Most of the major population centers along the I-95 corridor will have minuscule chances for snow ahead of or on Christmas Day as the week progresses.

A few parts of the far interior Northeast, places in Vermont, that received as much as 10 inches of snow over the weekend, or close to 10 inches as some parts of New Hampshire measured, could see snow cover remain through the week until Christmas Day.

Historically, some of the major Northeast cities such as Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington, D.C., have a 5% to 25% chance of an inch of snow cover on Christmas morning.

It seems that many of the I-95 cities will be left snowless this Christmas, as mild air by December standards moves into the mid-Atlantic region over Christmas weekend.

Holiday scenes around the world

U.S. President Joe Biden (L) and first lady Jill Biden pet their dog, Commander, while virtually meeting with United States military service members on Christmas Day, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, DC, on December 25, 2021. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI | License Photo

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