December 25th is just around the corner, and you might be dreaming of a white Christmas. Depending on where you live, your dreams might be realistic — or they might be farfetched.
Luckily the kind folks at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have created a handy map that can make or break your dreams. It shows the odds having at least 1 inch of snow on the ground for Christmas in the continental U.S.
Spoiler alert: Miami has a zero percent chance of seeing snow on the ground on Christmas (or any other day of the year). As you would guess, the odds for a white Christmas are generally better the further north or higher altitude you go. Large portions of the Rockies as well as chunks of New England and the Upper Midwest are a near lock for a snowy Christmas morning.
But don’t mistake this map for a weather forecast. It’s simply a look at the historical probability of snow on the ground using NOAA’s 1981-2010 climate normals. So while the data show that Duluth, Minn., has a 92 percent chance of having at least 1 inch of snow, that doesn’t mean it will necessarily happen this year.
In fact, this year an unusually low portion of the U.S. will be snow covered. The Capital Weather Gang reports that the U.S. has its smallest snow extent in a decade for this time of year and warm and rainy weather is set to race across the South and Northeast ahead of Santa’s sleigh and could even melt some of the snow on the ground.
Something else to note: the historical data comes from a time when global warming, caused largely by the buildup of human greenhouse-gas emissions, already began to kick in.
Average annual snowfall is expected to decline around much of the world — though heavy snowfall events are likely to remain fairly stable — as the climate continues to warm so these probabilities could well change over the next few decades. And a Climate Central analysis found that winter has been the fastest-warming season in the U.S. over the past 100 years.