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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 12/21/2010

Christmas snow statistics for the D.C. area

By Ian Livingston

Greatest snowfall at D.C., Baltimore, and Dulles on Christmas Day.

The chance for Christmastime snow in the D.C. area continues to look real. However, odds of a white Christmas in the D.C. area are fairly low historically. There is 1"+ on the ground only about 10-20 percent of the time on Christmas morning. The chance of having snow actually accumulate at any one place around here on Christmas is similar or perhaps slightly lower.

Of course, it has happened before. In fact, as recently as 2002 a few inches fell across the area. And while it did not snow on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day last year, there was plenty of snow left over from the Dec. 18-19 storm, at least to start the day.

Keep reading for more on the biggest daily snowfall totals for Dec. 24-26 in D.C. as well as other local observation points.

Since records have been kept*, there have been 15 distinct events with accumulating snow that impacted at least part of the 24th or the 25th in D.C. The 1960s as a decade were the snowiest around Christmastime, with 4 different events dropping snow on the 24th or 25th.


Years in which snow fell on the 24th of Dec. at local observation stations. In addition, a trace was recorded at the following locations on the following years: DCA - 1897, 1919, 1929, 1938, 1959, 1969, 1980, 1993, 1998; BWI - 1911, 1919, 1924, 1930, 1969, 1980, 1983, 1993, 1998; IAD - 1969, 1998, 1992.

When examining both Christmas Eve (above) and Christmas Day (below) snowfall individually across all three major reporting stations in the area -- D.C. (labeled DCA in the above chart), Baltimore (BWI), and Dulles (IAD) -- we find 9 years with accumulating snow on the 24th and 14 years with accumulating snow on the 25th.


Years in which snow fell on the 25th of Dec. at local observation stations. In addition, a trace was recorded at the following locations on the following years: DCA - 1890, 1894, 1906, 1914, 1917, 1923, 1938, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1957, 1959, 1967, 1975, 1976, 1981, 1985, 1989; BWI - 1906, 1915, 1917, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1934, 1947, 1948, 1957, 1959, 1965, 1966, 1985, 1989, 1992, 1995; IAD - 1968, 1975, 1985, 1981, 1965.

For D.C., the largest snowfall ended on Christmas Eve in 1966 when 6.5" of snow fell in the city; half an inch had fallen the previous day (12/23/66) for a storm total of 7". The largest snowfall on Christmas Day itself occurred in 1962 when 5.4" fell. The records for Dulles are 8.3" on the 24th (1966) and 6.0" on the 25th (1969). At Baltimore, a high of 8.4" fell on the 24th in 1966 and a high of 9.3" fell on Christmas Day 1909.


Years in which snow fell on the 26th of Dec. at local observation stations. In addition, a trace was recorded at the following locations on the following years: DCA - 1918, 1950, 1968, 1970, 1976, 1981, 1995, 1999; BWI - 1903, 1918, 1926, 1950, 1956, 1965, 1968, 1969, 1993; IAD - 1970.

Since a potential snow event this weekend may run into the 26th, data for that day is shown above. 14 years brought snow somewhere to the region on the 26th, with a high of 10" in D.C. way back in 1890. The largest accumulation in more modern records at D.C. was 3.6" in 1947, though Dulles recorded 6.1" in 1969.

Finally, let's take a look at the snow cover metric -- which is the one typically used in calculating odds of a "white" Christmas. These are Christmases with over 1" of snow on the ground when observations are made in the morning. It has happened 13 times since snow cover records began. In addition, 14 days recorded a trace of snow on the ground. Just keep in mind... a storm that drops accumulation after the morning observation (on 12/25) is not counted.

The District has had over 1" snow cover on Christmas Day in back-to-back years on just two occasions: 1908 and 1909 as well as 1962 and 1963. The largest gap between white Christmases was the 23 year drought from 1967 to 1989. Then it took 20 years until the next White Christmas came in 2009. The most snow cover - 7" - was observed both in 1966 thanks to the storm noted above as well last year with remaining snow from Snowpocalypse that fully melted at DCA by the 26th.

*Note: Both Washington and Baltimore records go back into the 1800s while Dulles began during the winter of 1962-63.

By Ian Livingston  | December 21, 2010; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Latest, Local Climate  
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Next: White Christmas odds good, not yet great

Comments

I like that 10-20%.

Posted by: ennepe68 | December 21, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Anyone remember the storms from the 1960s? That was before my time :)

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 21, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I vividly remember the 1966 snow. I was in first grade, and we had just moved from Alexandria to Reston.

Posted by: skidge | December 21, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

And I also think I remember that a year or two before that it was so warm on Christmas that we were playing outside without jackets---could that be right?

Posted by: skidge | December 21, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

skidge - great memory you have! The daily record high maximum for Dec 25 was 72F in 1964!

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | December 21, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

That was the year I got this really cool toy gun that I had asked for---it shot some sort of projectile while making a humming sound (I think...). I was a 4-year-old girl at time, btw. It was nice to actually be able to use it outside! (I somehow have made it to 50 despite that checkered past...)

Posted by: skidge | December 21, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I first started keeping snowfall records in 1966 when I was 14 and lived in Bethesda. I recorded 12" of snow, beginning around 7:30 pm on the evening of the 23rd and continuing through mid-evening on the 24th.

Posted by: DOG3521 | December 21, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Jason - I suspect that even the people alive in the 1960's wouldn't remember. Wasn't there a lot of drugs circulating around that time? My dad says he doesn't remember the 60's.

Posted by: authorofpoetry | December 21, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

As I've often said, it's high time we wiped out that mere 5.4 inch record with a genuine "Santapocalypse" storm. It's awfully strange that the record here for Veterans Day snow is over a foot [1987] while that for Christmas Day is a mere 5.4 inches!

Posted by: Bombo47jea | December 21, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Might add, too, that eventually it's bound to happen--especially if Greenland block high-pressure patterns over the Atlantic become the norm.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | December 21, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that all three of those records happened years apart. Was each storm somewhat localized?

Posted by: KBurchfiel | December 21, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

>And I also think I remember that a year or two before that it was so warm on Christmas that we were playing outside without jackets---could that be right?

I remember that too (I think). I was running outside in a sweater, on Christmas Day morning, in Alexandria. I turned 7 that in 1964.

Posted by: Murre | December 21, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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