Probability dictates if snow will fall on Christmas

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Will Putnam County residents see a white Christmas this year?

No one knows for sure, but if you rely on past history, it appears we are due for one.

According to National Weather Service records, last year there was nary a snow flake to be found with a high temperature on Christmas Day of 41 degrees.

But the year before that, residents were treated to a full 9 inches of the white stuff for their holiday celebration and a chilly high of only 20 degrees.

The year before that, we had no snow on the ground and a high temperature of 36 degrees. The year before that, we had 7 inches of snow and the year before that -- none. Get the idea?

So since we seem to be in a pattern of every other year, then it would seem we may have at least some snow to make this season a bright one.

But for those of you who don't like snow on your drive to Grandma's house, the rules of probability favor you.

According to a chart provided by the weather bureau, Putnam County has less than a 40 percent chance of having a white Christmas on any given year.

In fact, the county lies directly on the dividing line between two areas of the state that experience very different chances of experiencing a white Christmas.

Areas directly south of Putnam County have between an 11 percent and 25 percent chance of having snow on Christmas Day, according to the chart.

But if you travel just north of the county, your chances of having a white Christmas increase to between 26 and 40 percent.

So just what is a white Christmas? The weather bureau says there has to be at least 1 inch of snow on the ground for it to classify as a white Christmas.

One has to wonder if that's what Irving Berlin had in mind when he wrote the lyrics to "White Christmas" back in 1942. Either way, listening to it while you drive to the shopping mall this weekend will put you in the mood.

In other weather news, Putnam County residents may soon have a chance to see a few auroras in the sky -- those beautiful ribbons of green and red light that dance across the night sky every so often.

The weather bureau said a major solar storm is under way right now and could make for good viewing Dec. 14 and 15.

The downside is that television viewers with satellite connections could be interrupted from time to time and weather forecasters who rely on satellite images to make their predictions may have to resort to less sophisticated instruments.

The good news is that U.S. astronauts, who are currently making repairs to the International space station, are in no danger from the solar storm, the weather bureau said.

On Tuesday, the astronauts successfully completed one of three separate space walks that are to take place during Discovery's latest trek to the space station, NASA reported.

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