White Christmas not all that common


After yet another Christmas passing without so much as one snowflake, I looked into some things.

Incidentally, I came across this little ditty that I wrote after Christmas last year. It fits this year, too, so I’ll share it.

It goes:

“‘Twas the night before Christmas Eve, and all through the house;

All the creatures were stirring, a storm having roused.

Rain beat at the windows, wind tore at the sash;

Above clapped the thunder with bang and with crash.

No snow on the ground, but rain puddles gathered;

And I wondered if Rudolph’s nose worked in this sort of weather.”

Warm weather, thunderstorm warnings, gobs of rain – not typically what I associate with this time of year.

Even though white Christmases are few and far between, it seems, in the absence of snow in years past at least we’ve had the typical colder air of December to remind us of the time of year. Not so this year, and it just made it all feel … weird, out of place or something. Heck, the high temperature on Monday was above 60 degrees.

Have there been that many white Christmases in my life or is the constant wanting of one based on pure desire rather than the absence of previous white Christmases? I don’t know really how many white Christmas I have experienced. It just always seems to be the thing we want, and yet each year the snow waits for the new year.

Not knowing the answer to my white Christmases question, I did a little digging. According to a map by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) based on historical data from 1981-2010, our area only has an 11 to 25 percent chance of having at least an inch of snow on the ground for Christmas.

An interesting chart by the NOAA showed the percentage of snow coverage on Christmas Day over the last 12 years in the contiguous U.S. The highest percentage, at 63 percent, was in 2009. The lowest was 2003 with 21 percent. Last year, the snow coverage of the lower 48 was at 37 percent.

A regional breakdown shows that the Cincinnati area has only experienced 16 white Christmases in the last century. That explains why I don’t recall seeing too many snow-covered Christmas days – there just have not been that many.

So, there is some perspective.

Regardless, each year finds me yearning for some snow for Christmas. And each year finds me a little disappointed that none has fallen. But I tend to be ever hopeful for next year’s forecast.

Warmer weather just throws it all out of whack, I say. The higher-than-average temperatures just cast a weird feeling far and wide and things feel sort of forced – like we are all playing at the holidays rather than really being dug in.

At least the Christmas Eve service at my church helped me feel the whole spirit of the season more. Last year as we gathered around the outdoor, live nativity there wasn’t the need for the burning fires of years past to stave off the biting cold. I had a jacket on, for goodness sake. Not a coat, but a lightweight, typically-reserved-for-spring jacket. This year I didn’t even bother to leave the house in a coat, or a jacket for that matter.

The skies opened up a few times the last couple days, and I couldn’t help but think how like summer it all sounded, those multitudes of fat raindrops crashing into things. But it is the end of December and those summer sounds are just all wrong.

That there were Christmas lights hung here and there and on the TV “A Christmas Story” having begun its annual 24-hour run on TBS helped keep the time of year apparent, even if it didn’t feel like it all that much.

Whatever the heck is going on with Mother Nature, I cannot say, but I am all for some snow, and the sooner the better. It is winter, after all.

Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.


By Angela Shepherd

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