ASK TOM WHY: Historically, what are Chicago's chances of experiencing a white Christmas?

Dear Tom,


Historically, what are Chicago’s chances of experiencing a white Christmas? Is New Year’s Day more likely to see snow on the ground?


Nick Recchia,
River Grove

Dear Nick,


At least 1 inch of snow must cover the ground for a “white Christmas,” according to the National Weather Service. By that criterion, and using Midway Airport data, the likelihood of a white Christmas in the city is 43 percent, and 47 percent for a white New Year’s Day. That’s the word from Chicago weather archivist Frank Wachowski.


Wachowski said Christmas 1951 was the whitest of them all, with nearly 11/2 feet of snow blanketing the city — including 8.6 inches that began falling on Christmas Eve and continued into Christmas Day. The greatest snow cover on New Year’s Day was 16 inches in 2001.

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