If you dream of a white Christmas, your dreams may come true this year.
A major winter storm is barreling through the eastern half of the country, potentially bringing snow to many people who don’t normally see snow at Christmas. With temperatures dropping below freezing, the snow from this storm will have a better chance of lasting until Christmas.
The National Weather Service officially considers a place to celebrate a white Christmas if an inch of snow falls on the ground or at least an inch of snow falls on Christmas Day.
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Map of the continental United States showing the forecast snow depth for Christmas in white over the satellite image basemap. Snow is forecast across the northern United States, reaching as far south as Utah, Colorado, Missouri, and Kentucky.
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The forecast was generated from the Snow Data Assimilation System, or SNODAS, a computer forecast model from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center.
As with most weather models, SNODAS forecasts become more accurate the closer to Christmas Day. If your area is on the edge of a storm system, you could see forecasts fluctuate a bit over the next few days depending on where the storm forms.
While a white Christmas tree will help brighten up the trees, the storm is also likely to bring hazardous travel conditions. This is where meteorologists expect winter weather to have an impact on daily life.
Sara Kapnick, chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has specialized in studying ice throughout her career. She said her family vacations in hot and cold places.
People who grew up in regions such as the Northeast, West and Midwest may have made emotional connections to snow that may be associated with vacations and family, Dr. Kapnick said.
“Because of climate change, people who want a white Christmas will follow places in the United States where snow is forecast or generally likely,” she said.
Last year, NOAA updated the average odds of a white Christmas across the United States. Although the report cautioned against comparing the new estimates with those created a decade ago, it said “more regions are experiencing decreases in the likelihood of a white Christmas than have experienced increases.”
Classic Christmas movies like “Miracle on 34th Street” depict snow falling in New York City during the Christmas season. But it’s been more than a decade since New York City saw snow on the ground at Christmas, and even in 2009, the storm was so deep that days before, some jokingly called it “Grey Christmas.” Snowy city dirt.
It’s not the first time the city has gone without an inch of snow on Christmas Day. The song “White Christmas” was written during one of those long, snow-free-Christmas spells.
According to James Kaplan, author of “Irving Berlin: New York Genius,” Irving Berlin appears to have begun writing the song “White Christmas” in 1938.
“When he spends a lot of time in Hollywood,” Mr. Kaplan said.
At the time, Mr. Berlin wasn’t particularly happy about being in Hollywood, so he started writing the song, Mr. Kaplan said. It’s possible that Mr. Berlin felt some nostalgia for the old days on the Lower East Side where he grew up.
Data from the National Weather Service shows that in the early 19th century, the city regularly had white Christmas celebrations. At the time he wrote the song in the late 1930s, New York City had not seen a white Christmas since the 1930s, according to weather service data and the official definition of a white Christmas.
A is dreaming #WhiteChristmas?🎄❄
Historically, New York City has recorded at least 1″ of snow depth or new snowfall on Christmas Day in 25 of the last 152 years, or 1 every 6 years.
However, it has been very low in recent years, most recently in 2009! pic.twitter.com/sriIxZahl7
— NWS New York NY (@NWSNewYorkNY) December 18, 2022
Initially, there was a lost verse he wrote for the beginning of the song, which Mr. Kaplan said no one had recorded to his knowledge. (Actually others have done that.)
To the tune of the original song, he said, “It went like this. “The sun is shining, the grass is green, the orange and palm trees are swaying. There’s never been a day like this in Beverly Hills, LA, but it’s December 24th and I’m dying to head north.
But that’s not how Bing Crosby sang it, instead cutting that first verse and starting with the familiar chorus, “Dreaming of a white Christmas like I already know.”
“It was really the recording of Bing Crosby’s song and the start of World War II. “That was a huge accelerator for that song’s popularity and profitability,” Mr. Kaplan said. “Because Bing Crosby’s recording of the song was being heard by soldiers and sailors overseas at the beginning of the war.”
After Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the Americans entered the war. Bing Crosby’s recording was released the following year.
According to weather service data for Central Park, after Mr. Berlin wrote the song, New York did not have snow on Christmas until 1945, a few months after the end of the war.
As this song was written, New Yorkers continue to experience a white Christmas drought. The last time New York City measured snow depth, or an inch of new snow, on Christmas Day was in 2009.
Historically, New York City has had a white Christmas 25 of the last 152 years, or about once every six years, according to the National Weather Service.
This year, New York City may be missing out on a classic holiday wonderland.
This article has been updated to note that others have recorded a version of “White Christmas” that includes a verse omitted from the Bing Crosby version.