(WKBN) – The holiday season is officially here, and many of you have already started your Christmas traditions. One tradition that you may have is asking your local meteorologist whether or not you will experience a white Christmas.
While it is too early to tell you exactly, we can lean on climatology and the long-term forecast to attempt to answer this question. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and read about one of the best Christmas presents of all.
First, what is the definition of a white Christmas? If you were to google this, you might find a few different answers, but the National Weather Service defines a white Christmas as having one inch or more of snow on the ground.
One does not have to go too far in the history books to find the last time there was a white Christmas in Youngstown. A storm brought 5.8 inches of snow to the Youngstown/Warren Regional Airport, which is the heaviest snowfall ever recorded on Christmas day dating back to the late 1800s.
The Youngstown/Warren Regional Airport has had a snow depth of 1″ or more 36 times on Christmas Day (snow depth could include snow that fell on that day, but it also could have been snow left over from another day).
Thankfully, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has made this easy for us by making an interactive map of white Christmas probabilities. Check out the map below:
You will notice that Mercer and Trumbull counties have a higher probability (~45%) of seeing a white Christmas. This is where the Youngstown/Warren Regional Airport is. This makes sense because this is the Snowbelt region where lake effect snow from Lake Erie is common.
Elsewhere, the Valley has ~30% probability of experiencing a white Christmas which includes Youngstown. You can look at the probability of a white Christmas anywhere across the country by using this interactive map.
What does the forecast for the month of December look like?
The first ingredient for having a white Christmas is cold air. The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) releases monthly outlooks for temperature and precipitation. The December monthly outlook indicates that the CPC believes that temperatures are leaning towards being below average for the entire month which would certainly help with snowfall chances.
The precipitation outlook is more uncertain. The CPC is forecasting above-average precipitation for the west coast and the Ohio river valley, but there is an equal chance of above-average/below-average precipitation in the Valley.
Now is when I will tell you that forecasting the weather a month in advance is extremely difficult. The weather during one month has been the polar opposite of what was forecasted on these maps. However, they can also be excellent. It just depends on what Mother Nature decides to throw at us.
Hopefully, as we get closer to Christmas snow will be in the forecast!