Dreaming of a white Christmas?

The recent mild weather and rain (Eau Claire picked up .65” of rain Wednesday, December 14th) we’ve had in mid December has many of us wondering if we’ll have a white Christmas. Going by the averages, the answer would be yes. According to the National Climatic Data Center, Eau Claire has a 87% probability of having a “white Christmas” (white Christmas being defined as having one or more inches of snow on the ground). Here is that probability map for the lower 48 states (sorry Alaska and Hawaii). Eau Claire sitting in the middle of the 76 to 90% probability.

Looking back a recent history for Eau Claire, the 87% probability matches up pretty well with the weather we’ve experienced. Since 1960, 8 times we've had less than one inch of snow on the ground (1960, 1976, 1979, 1982, 1988, 1997, 2002, 2006).

The extent of the "white Christmas" also varies. 33% of Christmas days bring a snow depth of 5 or more inches. 2010's 24" snow depth is the record for snow depth on Christmas day. Only 17% of Christmas days in Eau Claire have a snow depth of 10 or more inches.

This is a break down of high temperature, low temperature and snow depth on December 25th from the last 11 years in Eau Claire.

2010 High: 25 Low: 14 Snow Depth: 24"
2009 High: 37 Low: 26 Snow Depth: 8"
2008 High: 21 Low: -14 Snow Depth: 9"
2007 High: 31 Low: 13 Snow Depth: 10"
2006 High: 34 Low: 22 Snow Depth: Trace
2005 High: 36 Low: 33 Snow Depth: 3"
2004 High: 16 Low: -5 Snow Depth: 1"
2003 High: 33 Low: 2 Snow Depth: 2"
2002 High: 23 Low: 12 Snow Depth: None
2001 High: 19 Low: 7 Snow Depth: 2"
2000 High: 7 Low: -26 Snow Depth: 13"

December 2006 was especially warm. That month brought an average temp of 28.3 degrees, that 10.7 degrees above normal. We also had only 2.1” of snow that December.

But then again, it can be cold. December 25th, 1996 had a high temperature of -6 and low temperature of -17 in Eau Claire.

As for Christmas Day records in Eau Claire…
High: 47, 1973
Low: -27, 1968
New Snowfall: 8.0”, 1945

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