NOAA 97-80


CONTACT:  Patricia Viets               FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
                                       12/17/97

SANTA ASKS: WILL WE HAVE A WHITE CHRISTMAS?

The National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., reports that Santa Claus has contacted the center to determine which areas of the country are likely to have snow at Christmas time.

Santa learned that the chances of a white Christmas (snow depth of at least one inch) are 40 percent or better over much of the northern and central Rockies, the upper Midwest, the Great Lakes area, and the upper portion of the Northeast through New England. The chances are less than 20 percent for all of the southern Plains, the Southeast, the desert Southwest, and the Pacific Coast (excluding higher mountains).

For deeper snow, parts of northeast Minnesota, Michigan's upper peninsula, and northern Maine show a better than even chance of having at least 10 inches of snow on the ground for Santa. These probabilities are based on long-term climatology and not on current weather patterns.

The report that Santa accessed on the World Wide Web provides climatological statistics and maps addressing the probabilities of a white Christmas for 300 U.S. cities. The report contains tables and color maps of the climatological probabilities for snow depths on Christmas morning of at least one inch, five inches, and ten inches.

The World Wide Web address of the report is: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/ol/about/ncdcspotlight.html

The center, part of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has more than 150 years of weather data on hand. These data range from handwritten observations taken by volunteers in the 19th century to more sophisticated radar, radiosonde, rocketsonde, and satellite observations by state-of-the-art equipment. The center archives more than 300 million pages of paper records; 1.3 million microform records; 200,000 tape cartridges and magnetic tapes; and has satellite images back to 1960. The center responds to some 320,000 requests each year. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/ol/about/ncdcspotlight.html

The center can be reached at 704-271-4800. The Internet address for the center's home page is: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov