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Friday, May 24, 2024

Dreaming of a white Christmas? Don’t pull out your snow boots just yet

A winter storm dropped more than an inch of snow on the William & Mary campus Sunday. (WYDaily/Courtesy Erin Zagursky)
While Christmas 2018 is predicted to be without snow, the Christmases of Williamsburg past tell another story. (WYDaily/Courtesy Erin Zagursky)

White Christmas, you say?

Well, maybe next year.

Maybe.

To qualify as a white Christmas, meteorologists need to see at least a five percent chance of snow in the forecast, said meteorologist Mike Dutter with the National Weather Service in Wakefield. As of Friday, forecasts don’t predict any chance of snow for Tuesday.

The National Weather Service in Wakefield predicts Christmas Day to be mostly sunny with no chance of precipitation. Tuesday is expected to fall within the average temperature range with a low of 34 degrees and a high of 54 degrees.

But locals in the past have had the privilege of a white Christmas.

The National Weather Service has recorded data from a station in Norfolk as early as 1871. This data is used to analyze the weather history for Hampton Roads in general. In Williamsburg, there have have been cooperative observers that have recorded data for the National Weather Service that only goes back to 1951.

With all of this information, the tale of Christmas past in Williamsburg tells a sometimes snowy story.

The earliest recorded temperature for Hampton Roads is from 1874 with a high of 50 and a low of 34.

“It’s funny because that’s the earliest we have and it’s exactly the range of our defined normal,” Dutter said.

In 1880, Hampton Roads experienced nearly half an inch of rainfall—but no snow. Even though on Christmas of that year temperatures were recorded at a high of 38 degrees and a low of 30, locals still found themselves looking outside to dry fields.

The most snow ever recorded on Dec. 25 was in 1935 at 5 inches but the coldest temperature was recorded in 1983 with a high only of 7 degrees.

“That was a really cold year,” Dutter said. “Overall it seems to have had some low temperatures.”

By contrast the hottest year on record for Christmas was in 2015 at 79 degrees, nearly 30 degrees above that day’s average temperature.

Even with all of the history of temperature recorded for Hampton Roads and Williamsburg, it seems that meteorologists still can’t definitely say that snow will never fall on Christmas day in the region.

“It’s an area where one year it might be in the 50’s and the next you could see snow,” Dutter said.

So, while a white Christmas doesn’t appear to be in the cards this year, locals can keep their hopes up knowing that it isn’t impossible for Christmas 2019.

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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