For those inquisitive minds wanting to know the odds of a white Christmas across south-central Nebraska and north-central Kansas...Santa's reindeer have tabulated the numbers and here are their findings...
A look at snow climatology from 16 long-term climate sites across our region revealed the chance of actually receiving an inch or more of new snowfall on Christmas day is pretty slim. For example...in the Tri-Cities...Grand Island has only received an inch or more snowfall 6 times in the past 108 Christmas days...Kearney...with 90 years of available data...revealed 6 days with an inch or more of new snowfall on Christmas...while at Hastings there were 8 Christmas days out of 79 years of recorded data with one inch or more of new snowfall during Christmas day. Other climate sites across our region showed similar frequencies...leaving us with about a 6 percent chance of receiving an inch or more of fresh snowfall on Christmas.
When pouring over snow depth records...the odds increase when looking at the chance of having an inch or more snow depth on Christmas morning. For Grand Island...24 out of 104 years offer a 23 percent chance...Kearney's 12 out of 47 years revealed a 26 percent chance...and Hastings with 17 out of 42 years data...bumps the chance up to 40 percent. Overall...when averaging the 16 long-term sites...the reindeer found there is about a 31 percent chance of having a morning snow depth of 1 inch or more on the ground Christmas day. Based on about 50 years of available data...Holdrege or York appear to provide the best opportunity for a Christmas day sleigh ride...averaging an inch or more snow on the ground...47 percent of the time. (See map below for U.S. picture.)
The record Christmas day snowfall amounts in the Tri-Cities include...Grand Island 3.0 inches in 1941...Hastings 9.0 inches in 1945 and Kearney 4.0 inches in 1945. Christmas day snow depth records...Grand Island 20 inches in 1968...Hastings 19 inches in 1983...and Kearney 21 inches in 1968.
The odds of having a white Christmas this year are better than average...at least when considering snow depth. Although it is too early to tell if a major winter storm forecast to open up over the central and southern Plains Tuesday night into Thursday will leave us with lingering snow fall on Christmas...it is pretty much guaranteed that our local area will have snow on the ground Christmas day...with subfreezing temperatures forecast through much of the upcoming week.