2008-12-25 / Correspondents' Notes

Did You Know?

If, like the famed singer Bing Crosby, you've been dreaming of a white Christmas, you might want to move to a handful of cities that seem to be able to provide just that year after year. In a report on the probability of a white Christmas in the United States by meteorologists Neal Lott, Tom Ross and Matthew Sittel of the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), five locations had a perfect track record with respect to providing the white stuff on December 25. The study examined climate normals from 1961 to 1990. Over that period, the cities of Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan, Hibbing and International Falls in Minnesota, and Stampede Pass in Washington all produced a white Christmas every year. Not surprisingly, those who live further north have a much greater chance of experiencing a white Christmas, but not as much as one might think. For example, films are fond of depicting New York City as a place that frequently sees a white Christmas. However, according to the aforementioned study, New York has just a 10 percent chance of a white Christmas. To put that into better perspective, the city of Richmond, Virginia, has a 7 percent chance of having a white Christmas. Despite the fact that Richmond is in the southern United States, its chances of having a white Christmas are not all that much different from New York's. What's more, Richmond and Seattle share the same probability, despite the fact that Seattle is located in the Pacific Northwest, a region many are quick to associate with wintery weather. Perhaps most surprising was the likelihood of Flagstaff, Arizona, having a white Christmas. With a probability at 56 percent, Flagstaff is one of the best bets a snow afficionado can make if they're hoping to experience a white Christmas.

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