Dreaming of a White Christmas, a Relatively Rare Gift in Denver

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The radio has drilled it into us by now. The never-ending stream of sappy Christmas movies have us all lusting for it, too. Denver has been dreaming of a white Christmas, and last night's snowfall should ensure that we have one. Surprisingly, it's a fairly rare treat in this city.

The official definition for a white Christmas is having at least an inch of snow on the ground. According to the National Weather Service office in Boulder, the chances of Denver having a white Christmas are 38 percent. In the 117 years of official records dating back to 1900, only 44 of those Christmases have had at least an inch of snow of the ground.

Our big snow months tend to be in February, March and April, and it's fairly common that we get only a bit of snow in early to mid-winter. As of early December 23, we'd seen only 3.9" of snow, which was way below normal. Yesterday's storm took care of some of that gap.

It also rarely snows on Christmas Day. Only 15 percent of Denver's Christmases since 1882 have seen any measurable snowfall. The snowiest Christmas Day on record was in 2007, when we saw 7.8 inches, but only six Christmas Days out of the last thirty have seen any snow.

The last few years, though, have featured plenty of snow on or around Christmas Day. In 2012, 2014 and 2015, we saw snow on Christmas Day, and in 2011 we saw a big snowstorm just three days before.

Right now, Christmas Day looks sunny and seasonably mild, with highs in the low 40s. Christmas Eve should be sunny, too, which could melt off a fair bit of the snow now on the ground. Even so, we just may end up with an official white Christmas, just the 45th we've had since 1900.

Happy holidays.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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