Before you ask . . .

What are the chances of a white Christmas in Raleigh?

Posted Updated

Chris Thompson
Some questions you just know are going to pop up this time of the year and the “What are the chances of a white Christmas?” question is at the top of the list. OK, here we go, the last White Christmas for Raleigh was in 1966 when there was an inch of snow on the ground from a previous snowfall. Since 1948, no more than a trace of snow has fallen on Christmas Day in Raleigh.

Some folks may remember the record breaking snowfall just before Christmas Day 1989. That storm produced over a foot of snow from Wilmington to the Outer Banks and 1-3” just east of Raleigh, along the I-95 corridor. On Christmas Day 1989, there was still 13" of snow on the ground in Wilmington and 2" in Fayetteville.

The folks at the National Climate Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, NC, put our chances of a white Christmas as 3%, based on the definition of a white Christmas as 1” of snow on the ground. The NCDC has a great article about our chances for a white Christmas here in the Triangle.

Statistically, our best chance for snow comes in February, with an average monthly snowfall of 3.0”; January is next with a monthly average of 2.3”. The earliest measurable snowfall was on November 6, 1953, with the latest measurable snowfall on April 18th, 1983.

Of course the greatest single snowfall event happened in January of 2000 when we had a storm total of 20.3”. Interestingly enough they were predicting a drier than normal winter then based on an above average La Nina cycle. Much like the forecast of this winter. Hmmmm.

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