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Christmas 2021 Forecast | Are White Christmases becoming less common?

Temperatures could be between 20 and 25 degrees above average for Christmas Eve, with the prospects of a white Christmas looking bleak.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Christmas 2021 is almost here. But is the holiday complete without snow on the ground? I'd argue no way!

The National Weather Service defines a white Christmas as having at least one inch of snow on the ground on Christmas morning. It does not necessarily have to snow on Christmas, just as long as there is snow already on the ground.

Through Dec. 19, Des Moines has virtually seen more severe weather than winter weather with last week's derecho. We saw a half-inch at the airport with the system that pulled through on Dec. 10, but since then ... nothing much.

Credit: WOI
Talk about behind last year's curve!

Odds of a white Christmas

Unfortunately, the chances of a white Christmas this year are low to say the least. Central Iowa will be on a warming trend this week, with highs near 40 through Wednesday, and then a sharp rise to near 50 for Thursday. 

Christmas Eve should be the warmest day with highs in the mid 50s. 

Credit: WOI
Unfortunately not this year.

White Christmases declining

Des Moines has had a white Christmas five of the past 10 years, and statistically, we see one about 49% of the time, so the numbers line up. 

However, the occurrence of having a white Christmas across the country and in central Iowa is decreasing.

Credit: WOI
Credit: WOI

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Every decade, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) releases an updated dataset to go by for comparison to "normals." It is a pretty stark difference for Iowa and the country as a whole. 

Overall, 1" of snow across the country on Christmas dropped from 47% to 38% in the updated numbers this year.

The average snow depth (snow on the ground on Christmas) in the U.S. has also dropped: from 3.5" to 2.7" in the new 30-year period.

Hopefully, next year, the odds of snow will tilt in our favor!

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WATCH: Was Iowa's storm on Wednesday, Dec. 15 a derecho?

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