Dreaming of a white Christmas? The outlook this year is good — very good

Published 8:11 am Wednesday, December 21, 2016

By Nancy Yang

MPR.org/90.1 FM

We Minnesotans are a lucky bunch. Not only do we dream of white Christmases, we usually get to live them out — especially for those in northern Minnesota.

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That’s one of the few non-alpine climates in the U.S. where a white Christmas is almost guaranteed, according to the state Department of Natural Resources’ climatology office.

What if you’re not in Minnesota for the holiday? Idaho, the Rockies, Maine, upstate New York and West Virginia all tend to become winter wonderlands right around Christmastime.

The good folks at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have put together a nifty interactive map showing the historical probability of a white Christmas, loosely defined as having at least an inch of snow on the ground on Christmas Day.

It’s based on the 1981-2010 Climate Normals, the latest three-decade averages of several climatological measurements, such as temperature and precipitation, from 9,800 stations operated by NOAA’s National Weather Service.

According to the map, both Duluth and International Falls have about a 92 percent historical probability of seeing a white Christmas. Crookston has slightly better chances at 94 percent.

In central Minnesota, the probability for St. Cloud is about 79 percent.

Heading south, St. Paul has a 76 percent historical probability of seeing a white Christmas, while Rochester has a 75 percent probability.

Meanwhile, Lake Wilson in southwestern Minnesota has one of the lowest historical probabilities of seeing a white Christmas: Just 52 percent.

There’s good news for Twin Citians this year: After enduring two consecutive years of snowless Christmases, the metro ought to keep its blanket of snow this year, thanks to back-to-back weekend snowstorms and low temps over the past few weeks.

“It would take the mother of all thaws,” said MPR News meteorologist Paul Huttner, “and that’s not going to happen, looking at the maps.”

In fact, he said, the Christmas forecast looks merry and bright for the entire state.

“I’m putting my money on a white Christmas for all of Minnesota this year.”