Meteorologist Brent Watts looks at chance of snow ahead of Christmas weekend
ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) – It never fails. The only thing more predictable than me starting shopping two weeks before Christmas is the question starting around the same time. “Will we have snow for Christmas?”
Most of the time I laugh about it and confidently say “probably not”. This year I can’t bring myself to confidently shovel the idea aside.
Typically, the chances of a “white Christmas” for Southwest Virginia are very slim. Based on decades of climate data, Roanoke and Lynchburg have a 6-11% chance of having snow on the ground at Christmas. Less than 1% for Danville. Meanwhile, the New River Valley and Highlands have a 19% to 24% chance.
The last time it snowed more than 2.5 inches on Christmas Day in the Roanoke area was in 2010 when 3″ was measured. There have been several other occasions when a “dusting” has occurred on or just before Christmas Day.
The biggest Christmas Day storm occurred on December 25-26, 1969, when 16.4 inches of snow fell, ending almost all trips (except for Santa, of course) early.
THE ODDS ARE IN OUR FAVOR
Meteorologists love trends, and models have been full of them for the last month. Consecutive rain events, multiple bursts of cold Canadian air. We’re just waiting for the ingredients to gather in the same bowl for Mother Nature to unleash a winter storm. This year the weather team is to see a favorable pattern for wintry weather ahead of the Christmas weekend. Is it definitive? Not now.
To get snow you need to have cold temperatures. The first round of cold air is due to arrive late next week. Thursday and Friday (December 22-23) highs are expected to be only in the 30s. It gets even colder on weekends when the highs barely reach the upper 20s.
At the same time, several reliable models suggest that a low pressure area could be developing and moving northeast from the mid-Atlantic just before the holiday weekend. The extremely cold air would increase the likelihood of an all-snow setup as opposed to the icy mix we saw on Thursday (December 15).
In extremely cold temperatures, I’m much more self-confident at Christmas than in a snowstorm. However, it looks like the odds are slightly more in our favor this year given the pattern.
WHEN WILL WE KNOW?
With the possible event 7 days away, we’re still in the process of identifying the threat of upcoming storms. By the end of the weekend we’ll have a better idea of whether or not it can happen.
Should the data continue to indicate a storm, we will release our First Call totals early next week and prepare you for what lies ahead.
Unless In front At Christmas, the models are back and forth at another event after the Christmas holidays.
SAFE IN THE COLD
Whether it snows or not, we’re very confident that this could be the coldest Christmas Day in more than a decade. The last time we had highs in the upper 20’s on Christmas Day was in 2000 when the high was 27°. Anything below that high temperature would make it the coldest Christmas since the 1980s.
Plan for increased energy use over the holiday weekend. We’re also watching another bout of cold air that could come down in the last week of 2022, along with another threat of wintry weather. Looks like 2022 could be going out with a bang.
- Confident that it will be extremely cold over the Christmas weekend
- Several models like the idea of a possible winter storm sometime between December 22nd and 24th
- You won’t know for sure until the beginning of the week
- The active pattern will continue after Christmas
WDBJ7 Meteorologists will first provide updates on the WDBJ7 Weather App between newscasts. Download the FREE Weather app from your app store, then listen to detailed coverage from the region’s only team of five meteorologists. You can also view the 24/7 weather stream for special winter graphics, video updates and radar, and live cameras.
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