Nelson Severe Watches & Warnings NOAA Weather Radio

Public Information Statement
Statement as of 8:18 PM EST on December 18, 2013

* * * * * * ** * * * * * * white Christmas statistics * * * * * * * * *

It is time again for the Christmas statistics for Baltimore and Washington...as compiled by the National weather services Baltimore/Washington forecast office.

What are the chances for a white christmas? ...

What is typical Christmas weather? ...

First for Washington...then for Baltimore...

*** Washington DC ***

Examination of climate records going back to 1872 for christmases in Washington DC show a typical Christmas day is partly cloudy with a frosty early morning low of 29 and an afternoon high of 44. But the year-to-year weather can vary considerably.

Coldest christmases...

The coldest was 1983. The low temperature was 3 degrees above zero. That day also produced the coldest high temperature for the day...a frigid 14 degrees that afternoon. The five coldest low temperatures were:

1983 - 3 degrees 1872 - 5 degrees 1989 - 11 degrees 1980 - 12 degrees 1906 - 13 degrees

Warmest christmases...

The warmest Christmas day was a toasty 72 degrees in 1964. The 5 warmest christmases:

1964 - 72 degrees 1982 - 70 degrees 1965 - 69 degrees 1932 - 68 degrees 1889 - 65 degrees

Recent christmases:

Last year...high pressure was in control of the area. Temperatures were below normal despite mostly sunny conditions. Reagan National Airport recorded an early morning low of 22...rising to an afternoon high of 33 degrees.

2013 --> hi 33 low 22 mostly sunny and cool 2012 --> hi 51 low 34 mostly cloudy and seasonably mild 2011 --> hi 48 low 34 mostly sunny and seasonable 2010 --> hi 36 low 32 cloudy/morning flurries 2009 --> hi 47 low 29 snowmelt/cloudy/mid afternoon-night rain 2008 --> hi 58 low 32 partly sunny high occurred at midnight 2007 --> hi 52 low 37 partly sunny and mild 2006 --> hi 50 low 37 cloudy with afternoon and night rain 2005 --> hi 44 low 30 cloudy with afternoon rain 2004 --> hi 33 low 24 sunny and cold 2003 --> hi 42 low 31 mostly sunny and blustery 2002 --> hi 39 low 33 rain with some snow/sleet 2001 --> hi 41 low 28 mostly sunny and cool 2000 --> hi 28 low 19 sunny breezy and cold

For snow lovers...

Snow falling on Christmas day is a rarity in Washington. Of the past 128 years since 1884 when snowfall has been measured in Washington... only 10 times has there been measurable snow that actually fell on Christmas day. That averages to about once every 12-13 years...or about 8 percent. Last year we just missed with 0.2 inches of snow recorded on December 26th.

The 6 highest snowfalls occurring in Washington on Christmas day...

1... 1962 ... 5.4 inches 2... 1909 ... 4.5 inches 3... 1969 ... 4.3 inches 4... 1902 ... 1.0 inches 5... 1935 ... 0.6 inches 6... 1892 ... 0.5 inches

If you interpret a white Christmas as either measurable snowfall that day or having snow already on the ground (a snow depth of an inch or more)...the odds of a white Christmas are slightly better. Since 1888...nineteen times measurable snow was on the ground on Christmas day that either fell that day...or was still on the ground from an earlier snowfall. That averages to a white Christmas about once every 6-7 years...or a 15 percent chance.

In the past 20 years...there has been only one Christmas that had measurable snowfall...0.2 inches in 2002. Furthermore...there were only two years in the past 40 that had an inch or more of snow on the ground on Christmas. They were during the very cold December of 1989...when nearly 2 inches of snow were on the ground from previous snowfall that month...and more recently in 2009 when 7 inches were still on the ground from the first of our major snowstorms that record setting winter. All 7 inches of that snowpack on Christmas 2009 melted by the next morning.

Of note...21 years ago...in 1993 in a span lasting less than 30 minutes in the evening...0.2 inch snow fell...with upwards of an inch falling in the western suburbs. That quick burst of snow on Christmas night 1993 caused severe travel problems. Much of the snow melted on contact with paved surfaces as temperatures were just above freezing at the time the snow fell. However...an Arctic cold front swept in just after the snow ended. Any water remaining on roads and sidewalks from melted snow quickly flash froze into a thin layer of ice...which caused gridlock and treacherous travel that night.

Precipitation of any sort (rain included) is much easier to come by of course. Fifty-one christmases have had measurable precipitation. That translates to about a 36 percent probability of measurable precipitation...or roughly one in every three years.

*** Baltimore MD ***

Examination of weather records going back to 1872...shows a typical Christmas day is partly cloudy with a frosty early morning low of 28 and an afternoon high of 43. But the year-to-year weather can vary considerably.

Coldest christmases...

The coldest...1983 when the temperature hit zero degrees. That day also produced the coldest high temperature for the day...a frigid 12 degrees that afternoon. The five coldest lows were:

1983 - 0 degrees 1980 - 7 degrees 1989 - 7 degrees 1960 - 12 degrees 1998 - 13 degrees

Warmest christmases...

The warmest was a toasty 72 degrees in 1964. The 5 warmest christmases:

1964 - 72 degrees 1982 - 70 degrees 1932 - 67 degrees 1893 - 67 degrees 1889 - 67 degrees

Recent christmases:

Last year...high pressure was in control of the area. Temperatures were below normal despite mostly sunny conditions. Thurgood Marshall BWI Airport recording an early morning low of 18...rising to an afternoon high of 32 degrees.

2013 --> hi 32 low 18 mostly sunny and cold 2012 --> hi 48 low 30 mostly cloudy and seasonably mild 2011 --> hi 48 low 24 mostly sunny and seasonable 2010 --> hi 34 low 29 cloudy/light snow in the morning 2009 --> hi 42 low 19 snowmelt/cloudy/late afternoon-night rain 2008 --> hi 59 low 32 partly sunny high occurred at midnight 2007 --> hi 50 low 30 partly sunny and mild 2006 --> hi 50 low 30 cloudy with afternoon and night rain 2005 --> hi 42 low 24 cloudy with afternoon rain 2004 --> hi 31 low 17 sunny and cold 2003 --> hi 41 low 28 mostly sunny and blustery 2002 --> hi 38 low 32 rain with some snow/sleet 2001 --> hi 40 low 23 partly sunny and cool 2000 --> hi 27 low 17 sunny breezy and cold

For snow lovers...

Snow falling on Christmas day is a rarity in Baltimore. It last happened 12 years ago in 2002 when a generally rainy Christmas morning changed to snow during the late morning. Enough fell to yield an inch of snowfall. However...of the past 122 years since 1893 when snowfall has been measured in Baltimore MD...only twelve times has there been measurable snow that fell on Christmas day. That averages to about once every 10 years...or about 10 percent.

The 6 highest snowfalls occurring in Baltimore on Christmas day...

1... 1909 ... 9.3 inches 2... 1969 ... 6.1 inches 3... 1902 ... 3.0 inches 4... 1962 ... 2.9 inches 5... 1935 ... 1.2 inches 6... 2002 ... 1.0 inches

If you interpret a white Christmas as either measurable snowfall or having snow already on the ground (a snow depth of an inch or more)... the odds of a white Christmas improve. Since 1893...there have been 24 christmases that measurable snow either fell that day...or was on the ground already from a previous storm. That averages to a white Christmas about once every 5 years...or a 20 percent chance.

In the past 20 years there has been only one Christmas that had measurable snow fall that day...one inch in 2002. Furthermore...there were only three years in the past 40 that had more than an inch of snow on the ground on Christmas. The most recent was in 2009 when 6 inches was still on the ground from the first of our major snowstorms that record-setting winter. All 6 inches of that snowpack melted by the next morning.

Precipitation of any sort (rain included) is much easier to come by of course. Forty-nine christmases have had measurable precipitation. That translates to about 35 percent probability of measurable precipitation...or roughly one third.

Happy holidays!!