With colder temps moving in and a chance of some winter weather here in the Midlands this weekend, folks are asking: Is there any chance of seeing a white Christmas here?
According to meteorologist Dominic Brown, Columbia has never truly seen a white Christmas -- only a trace of snow on Dec. 25, 1924.
But there's always a chance, right?
Brown, a Georgia native who came to WIS this summer from WTKR-TV in Hampton Roads, Va., took time to share his insight and expertise with The State.
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The temps have been warm these last couple of weeks. Does this mean we can expect to see a warm Christmas Eve/Day?
Right! At times, it’s felt more like spring than fall here in the Midlands! But the warmth we’ve had over the past couple of weeks doesn’t necessarily mean it will be warm this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The overall winter forecast for the southeastern United States (La Nina) is calling for warmer than normal conditions. However, that outlook is a broad three-month forecast for December through February. There will likely still be a few dips in the jet stream (a river of fast-moving winds high in the atmosphere) that will move toward South Carolina, carrying some cool and sometimes mild weather with it at times.
What are the Christmas Day record highs and lows for Columbia since 2000?
For the records set at Columbia Metropolitan Airport:
On Christmas Day, the record high is 79 degrees, set back in 1955. The record low is 7 degrees set back in 1983.
Now, as for the warmest Christmas Day since 2000 – It was NOT a record, but we had a high temperature of 78 degrees on December 25, 2015. As for the coolest low temperature since 2000 – It was NOT a record, but we had a low temperature of 22 degrees on December 25, 2000.
Of course, though it's certainly not expected, everyone wants to know if there's any chance of seeing a white Christmas in the Midlands?
That’s one of the most popular questions I’ve been asked since I started working at WIS back in June! Viewers have been asking about the possibility of snow this winter and especially on Christmas. You know, the overall forecast for the winter months is drier than normal conditions in the southeastern United States. That doesn’t mean we won’t see a white Christmas here in South Carolina, but right now, the chances do not look great this year ... We’ll just have to keep dreaming of a white Christmas!
Is there any sort of mathematical formula for determining the percentage of chance we might have of EVER having a white Christmas here --- in other words, what are the odds?
You know, there’s no formula, but weather patterns can tell us a lot about what could happen to our own local forecast, especially when you look at the movement of the jet stream. To get snow here in South Carolina, all of the ingredients have to be just right. Not only do we have to have the moisture in place, but we also have to have cold weather here at the same time. That’s when the jet stream comes into play, driving in cold air from Canada or the Arctic in our direction. If all of those ingredients don’t happen at the same time, then we might not get the snow that some of us are wishing for. Sometimes the cold air arrives after the moisture is here. That’s not a good recipe for snow. So, everything has to come together perfectly.
The odds of a white Christmas, though, are fairly slim. Looking back at the weather records and consulting meteorologists at the National Weather Service Office in Columbia, Columbia had a trace of snow on Christmas Day in 1924 and one day with a trace amount of sleet on Christmas Day in 2004.
And Columbia missed having a white Christmas by just a day! In fact, in 2010, that’s when a winter storm moved through the southeast United States on Christmas. However, the records show that Columbia did not get snow from that storm until the day AFTER Christmas – on December 26, 2010. We got 1.8 inches of snow from that event ... I remember that winter storm well because I experienced my first white Christmas while a home in Georgia on vacation. However, I could not get a flight back to work in North Carolina from Georgia. But that gave me a chance to enjoy a White Christmas for the first time in my life.