Home Illinois Will Chicago have a white Christmas this year? Here are the...

Will Chicago have a white Christmas this year? Here are the data.


The National Weather Service only considers Christmas white if there is snow on the ground 1 inch or more on the morning of December 25.

So, could it snow later that day? Beautiful, but it doesn’t count.

The most snowfall on Christmas in Chicago was in 1950, when 5.1 inches covered the ground at Midway Airport. Forecasters light snow is forecast for that day.

In 2016 and 2017, Chicago saw 2 inches of snow on the ground on Christmas Eve, marking the city’s first white Christmas since 2013. There was no snow on the ground in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Chicagoans longing for a snow-white Christmas are likely to get more than they bargained for.

Based on climate norms 1991-2020The National Center for Environmental Information predicts that O’Hare International Airport (the city’s official site of record since 1980) has a 35 percent chance of a white Christmas this year.

Looking for an almost guaranteed place to find snow on Christmas morning? Try Crested Butte, Colo., which is one of about a dozen places in the continental U.S. that has 100 percent historical probability white Christmas.

Historical probability of at least 1 inch of snow for Christmas, based on normals between 1991 and 2020. See interactive version cards.

“The snow, which started around 10 a.m., caught forecasters outside the base. They predicted snow in lower Illinois, but not in the Chicago area. Variable wind conditions were blamed for the erroneous forecast.”

Chicago Tribune, December 26, 1950

A car abandoned by its owner after it stalled is covered in snow on Lake Shore Drive at 37th Street on December 26, 1950. Snow plows later piled the snow around the car.  Published in the December 27, 1950 edition of the Chicago Tribune.

“The snow, which began to fall while latecomers were still hustling in a last-ditch effort to atone for their ‘get it early’ failure, continued throughout the night and into yesterday.”

Chicago Tribune, December 26, 1909

As published in the December 26, 1909 issue of the Chicago Tribune.

“The snowfall started late in the afternoon after a severe cold snap that saw the mercury drop to 7 degrees above zero at 6 and 7 am. This made yesterday one of the coldest Christmases since 1903, when 3 below zero was recorded.’

Chicago Tribune, December 26, 1933

A group of skaters "cracking the whip" on a frozen pond in Wells Park on December 25, 1933. Published in the December 26, 1933 edition of the Chicago Tribune.

A wildly unexpected “White Christmas” virtually paralyzed Chicago and much of the state yesterday, littering the streets and highways with thousands of stalled cars and stranding thousands of hungry families miles from the holiday turkey they were about to eat with friends or relatives. »

Chicago Tribune, December 26, 1951

Drivers use shovels to free their cars from blocked drifts on Beacon Street, looking south from Lawrence Avenue, in Chicago on December 25, 1951.  Published in the December 26, 1951 edition of the Chicago Tribune.

“Chicago florists complained that many of their Christmas flowers were frozen during delivery in sub-zero weather, but in the sub-zero Northwest, florists didn’t even bother to make deliveries.”

Chicago Tribune, December 26, 1935

Willis Herman (right) takes Lillian Bertrang and Delores Kohler sledding in Lincoln Park aboard the 75-year-old boat on December 25, 1935.  Published in the December 26, 1935 edition of the Chicago Tribune.

“One death, numerous accidents and traffic delays have already resulted from the storm, which came without warning and caught the city by surprise.”

Chicago Tribune, December 26, 1903

As published in the December 26, 1903 issue of the Chicago Tribune.

“Widespread flooding hit the southern suburbs, where the Met Office reported 6.6 inches of rain fell on Christmas Eve. The normal rainfall here for the whole of December is only 1.9 inches.’

Chicago Tribune, December 26, 1965

Harvey firefighters help Darlene Burton (left), her brother Bernard, 3, and sister Donna, 7, after their home was flooded on Dec. 25, 1965.  Published in the December 26, 1965 edition of the Chicago Tribune.

“Our Christmas snow brought the city’s seasonal snowfall total to 12.7 inches. This is well above normal and is almost one-third of the normal amount of snow that falls for the entire season.”

WGN-TV Chief Meteorologist Tom Skilling in the Chicago Tribune, December 26, 2002.

Matthew Carney and his dog Ginger go down at Oz Park in Chicago on December 25, 2002.

Sources: National Weather Service, National Centers for Environmental Information, Tribune Archives


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