Utah's Weather Authority: Will we have a White Christmas this year?

Snow Utah Salt Lake City
Posted at 11:31 AM, Dec 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-21 14:25:38-05

Welcome to Utah’s Weather Authority weather blog. Our talented team of meteorologists at Fox 13 are going to regularly pick topics that are relevant or interesting and then chat about them with you, in the form of a blog post. Today we are digging into our chances for a White Christmas and what it really means.

First, let’s start with the basics. What exactly is a White Christmas? When I was a kid, just a few snowflakes was all I needed for it to feel like a magical White Christmas! Turns out, it’s a bit more technical than that. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines it as “having one inch or more of snow on the ground Christmas morning.”

Here’s a map from NOAA, showing the historic probability of chances for a White Christmas.

What are the chances for a white Christmas?

For an interactive version of the map go here.

Here in Utah, it’s a mixed bag and depends on where you live. Salt Lake City’s historic probability of having a snow depth of at least one inch on Christmas morning is 48%. Tooele is 70%. Provo is 46%. Logan is around 70%. But if you’re at Zion National Park, it’s much lower at 2%.

For a downloadable spreadsheet of snowfall probabilities by weather stations from 1991-2020 climate normal, click here.

Of course, you could always drive up into the mountains if you really wanted to see a lot of snow on Christmas, but part of what made it so special for me was seeing it as soon as I woke up and looked out of my bedroom window. (And if you were anything like me when I was a little kid, I liked when it snowed on Christmas so I could have a better chance of finding reindeer footprints in the snow!) The chances for a White Christmas are looking good if you live along the Wasatch Front. Whether you define is as 0.1” snow on the ground or fresh snow falling on Christmas, you may be covered on both fronts.

In addition to the snowfall that is already on the ground from last week’s storm, we have an active storm pattern during the second half of this week, too. Our next storm arrives late Wednesday (Dec. 22) into early Thursday (Dec. 23). There are a few different scenarios in how that storm will play out (one scenario is faster/colder and the other is a slower/warmer storm with more moisture). That storm will likely start as valley rain, which may transition to snow down to the valley floor (accumulations would depend on which scenario plays out). Regardless, there’s another storm in the forecast to arrive later on Saturday, which also brings chances for snow on Christmas afternoon/evening. Active weather is expected to continue on/off through the end the year.

Travel safely and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!