December 2010 and December 2011...the odd couple

Let's go back one year from today, December 18th, 2010. There was so much snow on the ground, we didn't even know what to do with it all. On December 11th, a powerful storm system dumped a record 22" of snow in Eau Claire. Much of the Skywarn13 viewing area was under at least a foot of snow. So yeah safe to say a white Christmas was guaranteed for that Saturday. Also, a good chunk of the country was under some kind of a snow pack. Check out this image of the snow depth across the United States on December 18th, 2010 from NOAA.

Much of the Ohio River Valley is under 10" of snow or more. Snow goes as far as south as the northern borders of Tennessee and North Carolina. The snow pack extends as far east as to include the Mid-Atlantic states all the way over to the Atlantic Ocean and cities like Washington D.C., Norfolk, and Dover. Most impressive is an expansive area of snow pack over 25" from North Dakota into Minnesota and of course here in Western Wisconsin.

Alright let's bring it back now to present time. Check out the snow depth as of today across the United States.

Of course the mountains in the west have plenty of snow like last year, but you'll notice the areas of the country that have snow are at a minimum. Most of the areas that do have only a few inches at most. Excluding the west, if you want some snow and likely a white Christmas based on this map head to far northern Wisconsin or into the U.P. of Michigan along with Northern Main and New Hampshire. These areas have at least a decent snow pack.

The snow we saw Friday night in the Coulee Region is holding on for dear life. There was plenty of melting going on today with plenty of sunshine and highs in the 40s. More snow will get added to this national map to start this week, but not for us. A big blizzard will ramp up on Monday for portions of the Great Plains. Areas of the northeast New Mexico, the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles and southwest Kansas could see upwards of 8-12" of snow and white out conditions. Probably enough will stick around for those folks to see a white Christmas.

A white Christmas is generally defined as an inch of snow on the ground on the 25th. We have a cold front that will move through late Wednesday that could produce some flurries at best. Some of the latest model runs are trying to bring up a weak low pressure area into our region sometime during the 23rd or 24th. It would bring some light accumulation to the southern half of the viewing area. As seen by this model that brings an area of snow through Friday night with some moderate to even heavy snowfall in Southern Wisconsin.

Who knows this far out? The track of that disturbance could change or even fizzle out. All in all it looks like the most likely case is we will see a brown Christmas unless of course we have some kind of Christmas miracle. It would be the first time since 2006. Now, this is really quite the fun fact. Last year we had 24" of snow on the ground on Christmas Day. That is the most ever in record keeping for Eau Claire on Christmas Day. The old record was 20" way back in 1927. How crazy is it that the following year after that record is smashed we have no snow on the ground and a brown Christmas. Mother Nature really never ceases to amaze. So I guess in that spirit I guess I wouldn't be too surprised if she does give us a white Christmas at the last minute!


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