White Christmas dream becomes reality
Perhaps I listened to Bing Crosby sing about a White Christmas for too many years? Or, maybe, I watched too many Christmas specials showing deep snow on Christmas? Or, it could be that I just love snow? Whatever the reason, I've always wanted to see a white Christmas. Unfortunately, growing up in the D.C. area, we rarely see any snow on Christmas Day. This year will be different, a white Christmas in Washington - the rain notwithstanding.
Keep reading to find out a few facts about white Christmas' in D.C. and to see a few more photos I took Tuesday evening.
My family has photos of Christmas Day in 1969 in Springfield, VA and there was a lot of snow on the ground. It was a very white Christmas for D.C. Unfortunately, I was too young to remember that Christmas. Growing up through the 1970s, I don't remember a single white Christmas. It was much same for the 1980s, until 1989. That year, we had a few crusty inches of snow on the ground from snowstorms earlier in month. That was also the year we missed a Christmas Eve blizzard that hit eastern NC.
During the 1990s, there was only one Christmas with snow, and it fell during the evening of Christmas Day, 1993. It snowed almost 2" at my house in Fairfax during an intense snow squall, but National Airport only reported .2". That event was memorable for me because a bolt of lightning struck near me at the peak of the snow squall and it was very loud and unexpected.
Fast forward to Christmas Eve 2002 and we had a coating of snow before it turned to rain during the late evening. During Christmas morning, the rain turned back to accumulating snow for much of the western suburbs. Unfortunately, for the eastern areas it did not accumulate much. It was not the perfect White Christmas, but for the western sections of our area it did qualify. Seven years later, we'll go into Christmas 2009 with snow cover on the ground for the entire area. With a forecast for freezing rain and rain on Christmas Day, once again, it's not the perfect white Christmas, but it will qualify.
The National Weather Service, Sterling, VA put together a nice summary that describe the chances for a white Christmas in Washington. A portion is included below:
FOR SNOW LOVERS...
A WHITE CHRISTMAS IS A RARITY IN WASHINGTON DC. IT HAPPENED SEVEN YEARS AGO IN 2002 WHEN A GENERALLY RAINY CHRISTMAS MORNING CHANGED TO SNOW IN MIDDAY. THERE WAS ENOUGH SNOW TO YIELD A MEASURABLE 0.2 TENTHS OF AN INCH. HOWEVER...OF THE PAST 121 YEARS SINCE 1888 WHEN SNOWFALL HAS BEEN MEASURED IN WASHINGTON DC...ONLY 9 TIMES HAS THERE BEEN MEASURABLE SNOW THAT ACTUALLY FELL SOMETIME ON CHRISTMAS DAY. THAT AVERAGES TO ABOUT ONCE EVERY 14 YEARS...OR ABOUT 7 PERCENT. THE 6 HIGHEST SNOWFALLS OCCURRING IN WASHINGTON ON CHRISTMAS DAY...
1962 ... 5.4"
1909 ... 4.5"
1969 ... 4.3"
1902 ... 1.0"
1935 ... 0.6"
1892 ... 0.5"
IF YOU INTERPRET A WHITE CHRISTMAS TO MEAN MEASURABLE SNOWFALL OR SNOWFALL ON THE GROUND...A SNOW DEPTH OF AT LEAST ONE HALF INCH ... THAT IMPROVES THE ODDS SOME. SINCE 1888...EIGHTEEN TIMES MEASURABLE SNOW WAS ON THE GROUND ON CHRISTMAS DAY THAT EITHER FELL THAT DAY...OR WAS ON THE GROUND FROM A PREVIOUS STORM. THAT AN AVERAGE OF ABOUT ONCE EVERY 7 YEARS ... OR A 15 PERCENT CHANCE.
IN THE PAST 20 YEARS ... THERE HAVE BEEN ONLY TWO CHRISTMASES THAT HAD SNOWFALL ...1993 AND 2002. BOTH YEARS FEATURED JUST A FRACTION OF AN INCH. FURTHERMORE...THERE WAS ONLY ONE YEAR IN THE PAST 20 THAT HAD AN INCH OR MORE OF SNOW ON THE GROUND ON CHRISTMAS. THAT WAS DURING THE VERY COLD DECEMBER OF 1989 ... WHEN NEARLY 2 INCHES OF SNOW WAS ON THE GROUND FROM PREVIOUS SNOWFALL THAT MONTH.
OF NOTE ... 16 YEARS AGO ... IN 1993 IN A SPAN LASTING LESS THAN 30 MINUTES IN THE EVENING...0.2 INCH SNOW FELL ... WITH UPWARDS OF AN INCH FALLING IN THE WESTERN SUBURBS. THAT QUICK BURST OF SNOW ON CHRISTMAS NIGHT 1993 CAUSED SEVERE TRAVEL PROBLEMS. MUCH OF THE SNOW MELTED ON ONTACT WITH PAVED SURFACES AS TEMPERATURES WERE JUST ABOVE FREEZING AT THE TIME THE SNOW FELL. HOWEVER...AN ARCTIC COLD FRONT SWEPT IN JUST AFTER THE SNOW ENDED. ANY WATER REMAINING ON ROADS AND SIDEWALKS FROM MELTED SNOW QUICKLY FLASH FROZE INTO A THIN LAYER OF ICE ... WHICH CAUSED TREACHEROUS TRAVEL THAT NIGHT.
PRECIPITATION OF ANY SORT (RAIN INCLUDED) IS MUCH EASIER TO COME BY OF COURSE. FIFTY CHRISTMASES HAVE HAD MEASURABLE PRECIPITATION. THAT TRANSLATES TO ABOUT 36 PERCENT PROBABILITY OF MEASURABLE PRECIPITATION ... OR ROUGHLY ONE THIRD.
Let us know if I missed mentioning a white Christmas that you remember.
| December 24, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
Categories: Local Climate, Photography
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