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Science of Weather: Chances for a White Christmas

Science of Weather: Chances for a White Christmas
Science of Weather: Chances for a White Christmas 01:49

Just as Bing Crosby dreamt of a White Christmas, many of us share that same dream each year. The question comes every December, will we have a white Christmas?

Trent Frey, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Detroit explains the definition of a white Christmas. "The National Weather Service defines it as there being one inch or more of snow on the ground. At seven on Christmas morning that's our snow depth that day."

Based on the recent climate, about the past 30 years or so, we have about a 35% chance of a white Christmas. So roughly about one in every three years, we'll have a white Christmas.

But, didn't we used to get more white Christmases?

Frey answers, "Snow depth records at Detroit date back to 1948 and when we look at the climate record as a whole, it was actually closer to two in every five Christmases were white. We had a slightly higher chance for a white Christmas in the past than we had in the past thirty years or so."

Does that mean that our chances for white Christmases in the future are dwindling?

"In southeast Michigan, we're, in general, trending towards a warmer and wetter wintertime. So, with some slight warming, those wetter conditions could mean that we're going to see more snowfall, and that would be more likely for white Christmases to occur. But eventually, we might get to the point where we're getting so warm that a lot of that wintertime precip starts to fall more as rain or a rain/snow mix or freezing rain, things like that, which would lower the likelihood of white Christmases." Frey explaines

But for this year, we'll have a white Christmas. Now that's the science of weather. I'm Karen Carter.

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