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Posted at 11:10 AM ET, 07/31/2008

White Christmas -- in July?

By Steve Tracton

You've likely heard of Christmas in July, and perhaps even participated in related activities. Locally, the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation hosted an event for "children of all ages" to "enjoy a summer afternoon of tree trimming, exchanging gifts and singing Christmas carols and holiday music while enjoying treats," and the Washington Nationals conducted a Christmas in July Toy Drive in partnership with the Toys for Tots Foundation. There was even a Christmas In July Car Show in Timonium, Md.

Events with similar themes are common throughout the country. One notable example was the "Christmas Snow in July" event in Upland, Calif. (about 35 miles east of L.A.), where organizers hauled in 2,200 pounds of snow from a nearby ice company. Kids (and adults?) "wasted no time with the snow, chucking handfuls at each other for the duration of the event," according to this story.

Needless to say, especially considering the hot and sticky 90s this time of year, just the mention of snow whets my appetite for the white stuff. So, how about a real white Christmas in July? I'm not talking an artificial winter wonderland. I'm looking for the real thing.

Keep reading for more on the prospects for snow in July. See our full forecast (which is just a wee bit warm for anything frozen to fall) into early next week.

Yeah, I know you're thinking this guy Tracton is hallucinating. He's not just a member of the over-the-hill gang -- he's climbed to the mountaintop and jumped off in a state of unimaginable ecstasy just thinking of a blizzard in D.C. in July. Well, I do see the mountaintop, but have no plans (yet) to go that far.

So, could it really happen? Could Washingtonians wake up to snow on a summer morning? Not likely. But impossible? Let's put it this way... Records do show snow having occurred not too far from the D.C. area during July:

* "A correspondent of the Virginian, writing from York County, under date of July 8, 1886 says that a snowstorm occurred in that county on that day, lasting 15 minutes," according to the New York Times.

* In New England, there was widespread snow in June (close enough to July for me) of 1816 and frost throughout the summer, according to Al Gore's Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit (p. 57). The weird weather was attributed to the 1815 eruption of Mount Tamora in the East Indies, which generated a cooling dust cloud that supposedly caused a "Little Ice Age" in New England that summer, during which ponds and lakes never thawed.

* "Some of the Boston papers say that the [last] 4th of July was the only stormy one we ever had. This is incorrect. There was a snow storm, on that day, some thirty or forty years ago as far south as Pennsylvania." ("Boston," Trumpet and Universalist Magazine, July 18, 1829, p. 11)

OK, I admit I'm grasping at straws. Short of something like reaching a tipping point where global warming triggers global cooling by shutting down the Gulf Stream, it just ain't gonna snow around here in July. That being the case, let's use our imaginations:

July 30, 2008... Bulletin: Winter Storm Warning Issued
Light snow is likely to move into the region around or before midnight and temperatures below freezing area wide will allow whatever falls to accumulate. Moderate To Heavy Snowfall Will Develop Around Dawn Friday and continue into Friday evening. 12-18 inches of snow is expected during this period.

Aww, shucks. Try as I may, daydreaming just doesn't do it for me. But I'm still not ready to climb the mountain. Instead, maybe I'll just watch the DVD of "Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July."

By Steve Tracton  | July 31, 2008; 11:10 AM ET
Categories:  Tracton  
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did it just snow a couple of days ago in sydney australia?
First snow in Sydney in over 100 years!

Posted by: pvogel88 | July 31, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

You mean "whets my appetite"....not "wets"

Posted by: spellchecker | July 31, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I was wondering where all the milk and bread went at Giant....

Posted by: John | July 31, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Reports of snow in Sydney were somewhat exaggerated.

Posted by: CapitalClimate | July 31, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I remember enjoying a white Christmas one December in Australia. Local merchants had arranged for several truckloads of man-made snow and piled it into a sledding hill beside the main Post Office in downtown Perth, which has a climate similar to San Diego's. Lots of Western Australian kids were tobogganing down the hill having a great time, as were all the people watching them.

Posted by: Wannabe Aussie | July 31, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Thanks spellchecker. You've fulfilled your role quite admirably.

Posted by: Capital Weather Gang | July 31, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I am hoping to see snow on the mountain tops when I am in Alaska next week....does that count?

Posted by: nieciez | July 31, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

For avid snow lovers like myself, especially if you live in the DC Metro region, there's probably nothing that expresses our frustration more than lyrics from a John McCutcheon song:

"Nothing takes longer
Than waiting for snow"


Posted by: Steve Tracton, Capital Weather Gang | July 31, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Looks like you'll have to settle for a record-breaking tornado.

Posted by: CapitalClimate | July 31, 2008 8:22 PM | Report abuse

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