Will you have a white Christmas in 2012? If you live comparatively close to Canada or near a ski resort, the odds are in your favor.
Everyone else will probably have to content themselves with unwrapping presents and reruns of “It's a Wonderful Life” -- a film for which director Frank Capra developed a new technique of making artificial snow using firefighting chemicals with soap and water. Previous movies used cornflakes painted white, but Capra wanted to record dialogue live, without the crunching sounds getting in the way.
Snow cover has been light across much of the U.S. in 2012, one of the driest and warmest years on record. Some areas are bucking the trend -- Madison, Wis., for example, which saw its fourth-greatest 24-hour snowfall between Wednesday and Thursday, when more than 15 inches was dumped on the city.
“Other sites in southern Wisconsin picked up 20 [inches] of snow, the highest amounts for winter storm ‘Draco’ since it swung out of Colorado earlier in the week,” Weather Underground blogger Christopher C. Burt wrote on Friday.
Winter storm Draco may be ending snowless streaks for a number of U.S. cities and tying up Christmas travelers, as indicated by Jeff Masters' WunderBlog, but if you live in New York, don't expect to break out the snow boots on Dec. 25. Precipitation forecasts suggest that the traditional standard for a white Christmas, an inch of snow on the ground on Christmas Day, will not arrive for residents of the Big Apple.
The National Climatic Data Center has a map showing the probability of a white Christmas in the lower 48 U.S. states, based on climate data from 1981 to 2010.
“The highest probabilities are in northern and mountainous areas of the country,” the NCDC said.
Meanwhile, the Weather Channel has a more up-to-date map showing its forecast for snow on Christmas Day this year.
If you do happen to have a white Christmas in 2012, cherish it -- it could become a rare thing in coming years. In 2001, Oak Ridge (Tenn.) National Laboratory meteorologist Dale Kaiser made headlines after he analyzed four decades' worth of statistics on Christmas snowfalls in 16 U.S. cities and found that a white Christmas had become rarer and rarer.
In the 1960s, there were 78 white Christmases in those cities, while in the 1990s, there were only 39, Kaiser and his colleagues found.
“If we think back to Christmas mornings through our lives, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of us didn't say, 'Gee, I don't remember white Christmases since I was a kid,'” Kaiser told the Associated Press in 2001. “Yes, we are experiencing fewer white Christmases than we did 40 years ago.”