Last year Fargo Moorhead recorded a brown Christmas. Other recent brown Christmas’ included 2006, 1999 and 1994. Our historic average for having a white Christmas is 84%, meaning that approximately once every decade we have no snow on the ground on this morning. This year we are experiencing a white Christmas.
You may remember that a year ago today, I forecasted a white Christmas in 2012. It was based on the fact that the odds favored me being right and that locally there has never been two brown December 25ths in a row since such records have been kept. Although we do not have a lot of snow on the ground, it is close to the historic average of 4 inches for this date.
The extremely snowy Decembers from 2007 to 2010 tended to skew our perception of how white the ground usually is this time of year. Yet, both the amount of snow on the ground and our total for the season are pretty close to the average.
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This time of year we get many inquiries about travel conditions and the forecast for different spots around the nation. In the summer it is requests as to what the weather may be for an upcoming vacation or wedding.
Sometimes people get very anxious for these forecasts as we occasionally get asked several months in advance for a wedding forecast from nervous brides wondering if they need to rent a tent or if the sun will be shining on their wedding day. Of course our ability to forecast accurately beyond a week is very limited.
Yet, knowing that, the lack of snow for Christmas this year has apparently been hard on many people as I have already been asked about Christmas 2012. So here I go out on a limb; we have a white Christmas 84% of the time, plus, we have never had two brown Christmas’ in a row since records have been kept, therefore, I am forecasting a white Christmas in 2012. Remember, you heard it here first.
Have a Merry Christmas.
We have had several brown Christmas’ since records have been kept, but recently someone asked me if we had ever had a truly brown Christmas. The question revolved around have we ever made it to Christmas day without an official snow cover. Although on a couple of occasions we have had a trace reported for snow depth, at no point have we had 1 inch or greater reported on the ground this season.
Our last brown Christmas in 2006, we did have one inch reported on the ground for one week in early December. The brown Christmas in 1999 had either one or two inches reported on the ground for 11 days before Christmas.
The last time we had a truly brown Christmas was back in 1943 when at no time was there more than a trace reported on the ground before Christmas day. That winter the first 1 inch snowfall occurred in January. Although the ground was brown that year, the residents of Fargo Moorhead were at least treated to some Christmas flurries.
For 128 years of record keeping, Christmas day came and went with very little snow falling in Fargo Moorhead. On only one occasion, back in 1912 did snow accumulate to any consequence when 3.6 inches was measured. Sure, there was a dusting here or there, but something most would call a snow storm just did not occur. Considering our climate, I always found it an odd coincidence that Christmas day always seemed to avoid getting any significant snowfall.
Of course that all changed in 2009, our 129th Christmas of record. A year ago we were in the middle of a large and powerful storm that dropped anywhere from 10 to 20 inches of snow over much of the region. In Fargo Moorhead, 17.3 inches fell during the four day event, with 8.1 inches being measured on Christmas.
This year the weather looks to be taking us back to Christmas past with a more peaceful and quiet day for the area. We may all dream of a white Christmas, but most of us probably prefer it not to come on the day itself.
Although, most Christmas days have snow on the ground, it is relatively rare for snow to fall on Christmas. It might surprise you to learn that the heaviest snowfall on record for Christmas is only 3.6 inches and that occurred back in 1912. You would have to go back to 1972 to find a Christmas where over one inch fell in Fargo Moorhead.
Two years ago, we did have a little Christmas snow in the air when 0.2 inches fell, but dustings have been about all we have been able to get in the past few decades. Therefore, the storm system that is moving into the region currently could be stronger than any storm on Christmas since the 1940s. It was in 1945 that the Twin Cities recorded their Christmas Day record of 9.6 inches. That storm completely missed this area with no snow being reported locally, but this year it does not look like we will be so lucky.