Bing Crosby Would Be Disappointed This Christmas

Prospects aren't good for a white Christmas across much of the US—except in Alaska
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 22, 2023 11:31 AM CST
Most of the US Will Enjoy a 'Brown' Christmas
A local cook wades through floodwaters near the Kennebec River on Tuesday in Hallowell, Maine.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

For most Americans dreaming of a white Christmas, this year's prospects aren't good. Although parts of the Rockies and Midwest already have snow or could get a fresh dusting by Monday, other parts of the country that are normally coated in white this time of year are still sporting their drab late-fall look. "Some people will get their dream, their wish, and get a white Christmas right at the last minute," said Judah Cohen, the director of seasonal forecasting for Verisk's Atmospheric and Environmental Research team, per the AP. "But most of the country will have a brown Christmas." More on what's to come:

  • Record-low snow: The snow cover across the US is at near-record lows for this time of year, said Cohen, who doesn't expect much change by Christmas Day. "There is a storm that is supposed to come out of the Rockies and head toward Canada, so it looks like some fresh snow in the western Plains, from Kansas to North Dakota," he said, adding that snow could fall as far west as Denver and as far east as Minnesota. The National Weather Service also doesn't foresee a white Christmas for much of the country. But "at least the weather is favorable for most people who have plans to travel this year," the service wrote in its holiday forecast.
  • A Northeast drenching: Among the areas more accustomed to snowy Decembers is the Northeast, where a powerful storm blew in this week and dumped heavy rain on the region's ski areas, wreaking havoc on the snowpack. "It didn't wash out our trails. But it was crazy rain," said Tom Day, the general manager of Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford, New Hampshire. He hiked the ski area Monday, when it was closed, as 3.5 inches of warm rain fell and the wind howled. "That's a four-letter word, 'rain,' in our business," Day said.

  • Trouble out West: In the Rockies, ski areas have been struggling to open lifts and trails on meager early-season snow. Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado, for instance, currently has about 30% of its terrain open, while Mammoth Mountain in California has 48 of its 176 trails open.
  • A warming planet: Climate change is playing a role in diminishing Christmas snow, Cohen said, although he noted it remains a complicated picture, with extreme cold snaps and unusual weather events occurring. "Certainly, the globe is warming. Winters are getting shorter. Overall, they're getting warmer," Cohen said. "December, I've seen the strongest warming. So I feel like December really no longer qualifies as a winter month."

  • Perseverance: Despite the challenges, snow lovers aren't giving up, at least not in the Northeast. After closing for rain on Monday, Gunstock reopened Tuesday, while many other ski areas took a day or two longer to rebuild trails. In Vermont, the rain caused ski areas to lose some of their natural snow and close some trails, said a Ski Vermont rep, who added that cold nighttime temperatures forecast for late this week would help them recover.
  • Hope on the horizon: Those snowbirds in the Northeast might not need to wait long after Christmas for fresh powder. Cohen said the weather should get colder just before New Year's Day and into the first week of January.
  • Where will the snow be? "The best chance for a white Christmas by far is in Alaska," the NWS wrote. "Anchorage's record snow depth on Christmas Day is 30 inches ... which was set back in 1994, and this year's snow depth could be close to the record."
(More Christmas stories.)

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