Keep dreaming: Chances slim for White Christmas 2012

Roger and I are  headed to the grocery store because there’s a “chance” that it may snow/sleet this evening, and like most Marylanders, we become a little crazy if the white stuff is in the forecast.

I remember when I was a teen, hearing about a local car dealership that promised to give away a car if it snowed on Christmas day.  These deals still exist, but the odds are probably greater that you will be struck by lightening than win a car.  (Actually, I have no idea about how many people are test driving cars, but the National Weather Service sets the likelihood of being struck by lightening at 1/1,000,000).  This year, Pohanka Hyundai in Fredericksburg, VA offered one lucky winner a car or $15,000 if it snowed on Christmas.

The fine print for the dealership’s ad read “a minimum of 5” of snow must be measured at the Ronald Reagan International Airport between 12 am and 11:59 pm Christmas Day.”  Only two years in Maryland recorded weather history (122 years) has there been snow over five inches, and I’m guessing it’s even more unlikely for Fredericksburg to the south of us.

So if we all dream of White Christmases, how likely is it that we will get one?

The National Climatic Data Center has a nifty map of the entire U.S.  Maryland sits at 11 – 25% for snow on Christmas (even less on the Eastern Shore).  Based on my experience (and my lifetime in Maryland gives me plenty), even 10% is a high number.

A 2005 article in the Baltimore Sun confirms this exactly.  If we count every Christmas since the beginning of Baltimore snowfall record-keeping (1893), we’ve had snow fall on Christmas Day 12 times.  That’s 10 percent.  If we count the Christmases when snow fell or was on the ground, it comes to 29 times, or closer to 25%.

So, the bottom line is that IF it snows (or sleets or whatever) tonight, I’m going to appreciate it instead of curse it.  And I’ve learned that if I want a White Christmas guaranteed, the best move I can make is to rural Michigan, Minnesota or Washington State.

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