Christmas Eve and Day in Southern Wisconsin & Weather Facts (Updated 6 pm 12/25)

Did we have a White Christmas?

The majority of people in southern Wisconsin woke up to a white Christmas (defined as a snow depth of at least 1 inch on the ground). People in far southeast Wisconsin and those near the lake shore were least likely to experience a white Christmas, as snow depth reports in those areas ranged from a trace to an inch on Christmas Day. Elsewhere, those along and northwest of a line from Johnsonville, to Germantown, to Oconomowoc, to Palmyra, to Janesville saw snow depths that were generally greater than or equal to three inches.  The graphic below is an analysis of snow depth as of 7 am CST on Christmas Day.

Below are Chistmas Eve and Christmas Day weather facts for Milwaukee and Madison:

Milwaukee:

Records show that there has been a white Christmas approximately 48 percent of the time. Over the 119 year period of snow depth records, there have been 57 occurrences of an inch or more of snow on the ground on Christmas Day.

Below are the last 10 years on record for when we had a Christmas Eve or a Christmas Day without any snow on the ground and no snowfall occurring on that day.  Snowfall records go back to 1884 and snow depth records go back to 1893.

Year

Dec. 24 2011
Dec. 24 2006
Dec. 24 2004
Dec. 24 1998
Dec. 24 1996
Dec. 24 1990
Dec. 24 1986
Dec. 24 1982
Dec. 24 1971
Dec. 24 1946

Year

Dec. 25 2011
Dec. 25 2006
Dec. 25 1998
Dec. 25 1995
Dec. 25 1986
Dec. 25 1982
Dec. 25 1955
Dec. 25 1943
Dec. 25 1939
Dec. 25 1938

Data for Christmas Eve over the past 11 years...
 
Year              High Low Precip Snow     Snow on 
                                                  Fall     the Ground

Dec  24 2012  30    23         T      T              1
Dec. 24 2011  39    22    0.00     0.0             0
Dec. 24 2010  32    26         T      T              T
Dec. 24 2009  37    32    0.44     0.1             4
Dec. 24 2008  36      9    0.14     1.4           13
Dec. 24 2007  23    18    0.00     0.0             2
Dec. 24 2006  45    27    0.00     0.0             0
Dec. 24 2005  38    32         T     0.0             3
Dec. 24 2004  10     -4    0.00     0.0             0
Dec. 24 2003  28    16          T       T            T
Dec. 24 2002  30    20          T    0.1             0

Data for Christmas Day over the past 11 years...
 

Year              High Low Precip Snow     Snow on 
                                                  Fall     the Ground
Dec. 25 2012  xx     xx     x.xx      x.x             1 
Dec. 25 2011  42    31    0.00     0.0            0
Dec. 25 2010  33    28    0.03     0.6            T
Dec. 25 2009  42    23    0.96       T             2
Dec. 25 2008  28     0         T        T          13
Dec. 25 2007  39    18    0.00     0.0            1
Dec. 25 2006  38    31    0.00     0.0            0
Dec. 25 2005  36    33    0.00     0.0            2
Dec. 25 2004  19    10    0.01     0.3            0
Dec. 25 2003  34    18    0.00     0.0            T
Dec. 25 2002  30    24        T        T            0

Milwaukee climate statistics for Christmas Day (normals are derived from 1981-2010 data):

Normal high................30 degrees
Normal low.................18 degrees
Normal precip.............0.06 inches
Normal snowfall..........0.4 inches
Warmest high.............61 in 1962
Coldest low................-12 in 1983
Coldest high...............-2 in 1983  *** The only Christmas with a
Warmest low..............45 in 1936       low high at 0 or below. ***
Most precipitation.......0.96 in 2009
Most snowfall.............6.0 in 1909
Highest snow depth...25 in 2000

Madison:

Records show that there has been a white Christmas approximately 68 percent of the time. Over the 107 year period of snow depth records, there have been 73 occurrences of an inch or more of snow on the ground on Christmas Day.

Below are the last 10 years on record for when we had a Christmas Eve or a Christmas Day without any snow on the ground and no snowfall occurring on that day. Snowfall records go back to 1884 and snow depth records go back to 1905.

Year

Dec. 24 2006
Dec. 24 2002
Dec. 24 1982
Dec. 24 1971
Dec. 24 1957
Dec. 24 1943
Dec. 24 1939
Dec. 24 1932
Dec. 24 1917
Dec. 24 1913

Year

Dec. 25 2006
Dec. 25 1982
Dec. 25 1979
Dec. 25 1971
Dec. 25 1955
Dec. 25 1943
Dec. 25 1939
Dec. 25 1936
Dec. 25 1931
Dec. 25 1917

Data for Christmas Eve over the past 11 years... 

Year              High Low Precip Snow    Snow on
                                                  Fall     the Ground

Dec. 24 2012  24    11      T         T             9
Dec. 24 2011  39    20   0.00     0.0             T
Dec. 24 2010  28    23   0.01     2.0             7
Dec. 24 2009  35    32   0.46      T               7
Dec. 24 2008  31     4    0.28     2.9           13
Dec. 24 2007  20    15      T       T               6
Dec. 24 2006  42    21   0.00     0.0             0
Dec. 24 2005  35    28      T       0.0            5
Dec. 24 2004  12    -6   0.00      0.0            T
Dec. 24 2003  25   12   0.00      0.0            T
Dec. 24 2002  26   11   0.00      0.0            0

Data for Christmas Day over the past 11 years...

Year              High Low Precip Snow    Snow on
                                                  Fall     the Ground
Dec. 25 2012  xx     xx    x.xx      x.x              9
Dec. 25 2011  43    23   0.00     0.0             T
Dec. 25 2010  30    20      T        T              7
Dec. 25 2009  40    17   0.49     1.0             5
Dec. 25 2008  21    -7    0.01     0.2           15
Dec. 25 2007  37    20   0.00     0.0             5
Dec. 25 2006  33    26   0.00     0.0             0
Dec. 25 2005  36    32      T        T              4
Dec. 25 2004  20    12   0.05     1.4             1
Dec. 25 2003  36    12   0.00     0.0             T
Dec. 25 2002  25    22      T        T              0

Madison climate statistics for Christmas Day (normals are derived from 1981-2010 data):

Normal high.................28 degrees
Normal low..................13 degrees
Normal precip..............0.04 inches
Normal snowfall...........0.4 inches
Warmest high...............56 in 1982
Coldest low..................-21 in 2000
Coldest high.................-5 in 1983
Warmest low................45 in 1936
Most precipitation.........0.67 in 1876
Most snowfall...............3.5 in 1950
Highest snow depth.....16 in 1985

 

What are the Chances of Experiencing a White Chrismas in Southern Wisconsin?

A white Christmas is defined as a snow depth of at least 1 inch on the ground on Christmas day.  The map below shows the climatological probability (in percent) that a snow depth of 1 inch will be observed on Christmas day for the Continental United States (from the National Climatic Data Center).  This probability is based on the 1981-2010 Climate Normals.  Note: this is a climatological probability and the actual conditions observed can vary.  In southern Wisconsin, southeast Wisconsin lies in the 40 - 50 % range and northwest corner of southern Wisconsin lies in the 60 - 75% range. Essentially, this map shows that roughly 1 out of 2 Christmas holidays would meet the conditions for a white Christmas in the far southeast -- with chances increasing as you go northwest.

 

ET/MBK
NWS Milwaukee/Sullivan WI


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