NOAA 99-086
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Pat viets
12/15/99

SANTA ASKS NOAA: WILL WE HAVE A WHITE CHRISTMAS?

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

To help Santa with his travel plans, the center has created a report that is available on line. The report contains maps and tables showing the percent probabilities for a snow depth of at least 1 inch on Christmas morning, as well as the probabilities for a depth of at least 5 inches and 10 inches. These probabilities are based on long-term climatology and not on current weather patterns.

Data from U.S. major airport stations for the period of 1961-1990 was used to compute these statistics. Only stations with at least 25 years of data were used, and the '61-'90 period was chosen to coincide with the standard period for computing climatological normals. The report is available at: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/ol/climate/extremes/1999/december/extremes1299.html

The actual conditions may vary widely from these probabilities. The snow on the ground or snowfall on Christmas day will be based on the actual weather pattern during that time. These probabilities are useful as a guide only to show where snow on the ground is more likely. If you would like to keep track of the snowfall across North America on a daily basis, see the NOAA Operational Daily Snow Analysis Charts.

The Asheville center 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 data include satellite weather images back to 1960, with 55 gigabytes of new information added each day--that is equivalent to 18 million pages a day.