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Posted on Mon, Dec 24, 2012 : 2 p.m.

White Christmas should be in store for Ann Arbor thanks to Christmas Eve snowfall

By Ben Freed


The downtown Christmas lights in Ann Arbor should help illuminate a snowy Christmas eve this year.

Alan Warren | Ann Arbor News

Irving Berlin dreamed of it, Bing Crosby crooned it, meteorologists measure it, and Ann Arbor likely will experience it this year. The idea of a “White Christmas” is well established in pop culture, but also is quantified by weather observers.

University of Michigan staff meteorologist Dennis Kahlbaum said for a Christmas to officially count as “white,” there must be an average of at least half an inch of snow on the ground.

“You could have a trace, which is less than half an inch, and some people might argue that it’s sort of a white Christmas,” he said.

“But in weather observation terms if you have a half-inch or greater of snow on the ground, that’s considered to be a one-inch snow cover which qualifies as a White Christmas.”

This year, there’s no snow forecasted for Christmas day, but a projected one-inch snowfall on Monday should be enough to provide the necessary ground cover.

“It looks like it will most likely happen this year,” Kahlbaum said. “There’s no warming projected overnight or tomorrow morning that would melt it away.”

Current forecasts call for a sunny Christmas day with temperatures topping out at 34 degrees and winds up to 9 miles per hour.

Since measurements were first taken in 1880, there have been 66 “white” Christmases, exactly half of the 132 years recorded. Kahlbaum said that means there is a 50 percent climatological chance for a White Christmas in Ann Arbor.

The last White Christmas was in 2010, when there were four inches of snow on the ground. The early 2000s were very white, with six years in a row from 2000 to 2005 measuring at least one inch of snow.

The year 2000 was the second “whitest” Christmas on record in Ann Arbor. The 14 inches of snow that year was second only to the 15 inches measured in 1884.

Kahlbaum said while it’s not expected to snow on Christmas day, the following day could bring the biggest snowfall of the season so far.

“Wednesday there’s a 3- to 6-inch possible snow storm, but that’s part of a different system,” he said.

“We’re on the fringe of a major storm that will be passing to our south. If that storm moves 50 miles to the north or south it could make a significant difference as to how much snow we get.”

The National Weather Service currently is projecting 4 inches of snow for Ann Arbor on Dec. 26.

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Tue, Dec 25, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

I'm surprised this article didn't mention the horrible road conditions last night. We left to go to East Lansing at 4 and didn't arrive until 6:30. This is usually a one hour drive. Probably passed 15 cars in the ditch on the way up 23. We didn't get going over 10mph the whole way to Brighton. Once we turned onto 96 things improved, partly because salt trucks were on the road, but we definitely felt it was a Christmas miracle that we survived the trip up to Brighton. Worst driving I've been through in many, many years, and never down in this part of the state. I wanted to find out whether everyone was OK once they got out of the ditches--also hoping to hear a report about how Washtenaw and Livingston counties plan to use their road maintenance equipment to keep travelers safe. Salt and trucks are not really worth having if they're just stored in the municipal lot on nights like last night.


Tue, Dec 25, 2012 : 7:45 a.m.

I don't think we got a half inch. Really no more than a coating. The big snow shows up weds night.

Unusual Suspect

Tue, Dec 25, 2012 : 3:33 a.m.

"Snow coming overnight, but white Christmas unlikely in Ann Arbor" -, December 20, 2012.


Tue, Dec 25, 2012 : 3:02 a.m.

Benny. You have a "way with words." Dude! You have found yer calling! Git transferred oot 'o the business beat . . . Dig?

Ann English

Tue, Dec 25, 2012 : 1:35 a.m.

I recognize Main Street in the photo above. Anyone else remember the 1998-1999 winter? We didn't get any snow at all until January, and snow came in as a blizzard that first week of the new year.

Local Cat

Tue, Dec 25, 2012 : 3:46 a.m.

Yep i think we got liken 16 inches just after new years.


Mon, Dec 24, 2012 : 11:47 p.m.

I think it's nice, and with all the stuff to bum you out over the last month or so and lack of real Christmas spirit I feel around me we could use a nice white Christmas. At least for the kids.


Mon, Dec 24, 2012 : 11:31 p.m.

bah humbug ...


Mon, Dec 24, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

Come on spring, I'm sick of winter already.


Mon, Dec 24, 2012 : 8:04 p.m.

Bring on the snow!


Mon, Dec 24, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

A snowy Christmas Eve is just what the doctor ordered! It always makes it a little more special. Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and Holiday Season!

Linda Peck

Mon, Dec 24, 2012 : 7:40 p.m.

I like it, one inch is perfect! Thank you Mother Nature! I like the picture, too. Thank you, Alan Warren!


Mon, Dec 24, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

yes oh yes oh yes...


Mon, Dec 24, 2012 : 7:28 p.m.



Mon, Dec 24, 2012 : 7:23 p.m.

lol @ "snowily"

Ben Freed

Mon, Dec 24, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

Thanks for pointing it out, it's been fixed. Ben