Is the “Dream” Alive?

“…where the treetops glisten, and children listen…to hear sleigh bells in the snow…”

So here we are, just two weeks away from Christmas Day.  It’s that time some of you may start wondering, “is there ANY shot for a White Christmas in South-Central KY this year?”  History tells us that chance is very small, but we can never say never!

In order for a Christmas to be “white”, a couple of pieces of criteria must be met:  1.) At least 1″ of snow observed on the ground on Christmas morning, or 2.)  At least 1″ of new snow falling on Christmas Day.  Sounds simple, but if you’ve lived here long enough, you know meeting that criteria is easier said than done.

Here’s a list of “official” White Christmases for Bowling Green dating back to the 1800s (data courtesy of Louisville’s National Weather Service):

1880:  4″*

1899: 1.2″

1909: 4″

1912: 2″*

1914: 3″*

1935: 4.5″

1962: 2″*

1963: 6″* (most snow observed in BG on Christmas)

1966: 3″*

1969: 3.4″

1989: 1″*

1992: 3.5″

1993: 1″

2010: 1.1″ (4″ on ground)

*observed snow depth

When you count them up, you find that an “official” White Christmas has only happened 14 times in the last 134 years for Bowling Green.  Not very good odds for “snow birds”, that’s for sure.  BUT…I think it’s worth noting that when we do see White Christmases here, they tend to come in “bunches”.  Note there were three between 1909-1914, four in the 1960s, and three between 1989-1993.  Our most recent, and it was a quite memorable, happened just three years ago.  That’s when nearly 4″ of the white stuff fell on Bowling Green on Christmas Eve with an additional inch falling from snow showers on Christmas Day.

Speaking of the odds, here they are for the nation as a whole based on climatology (courtesy of NOAA): 

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 For a sure bet of seeing 1″ of snow on the ground on Christmas Day, one usually has to go north – sometimes WAY up north – to see a mantle of white covering the ground.  Every year is different, though. 

So what about this year?  Well, it’s still far too soon to say with great confidence whether or not Bowling Green will experience a White Christmas.  But the long range models do offer some clues as to what may transpire between now and the 25th. 

Of course, this is NOT a forecast and the details are fuzzy this far in advance, but a couple of models are converging on a strong storm system affecting the Ohio/Tennessee Valley region toward the end of the next week (around the 20th/21st). 

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This could be a heavy rain or even thunderstorm producer for us before a blast of VERY cold air arrives in its wake late next weekend and early the following week (22nd and after).  Below is one model’s projection for temperatures relative to averages for Christmas week.

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It looks mighty chilly for much of the country!

If that cold air verifies, the question turns to moisture and the availability of it.  Does the system potentially affecting us on the 20th-22nd deliver a shot of at least some snow as it departs?  Or will there be another weathermaker in its wake closer to Christmas itself?  It is simply too soon to answer those questions right now.  But the moral of the story…our chance for a White Christmas is NOT at zero yet!

Shane

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