Chicago, IL

A white Christmas is only in your dreams as Chicago is set to break a no-snow record

Jennifer Geer

We would need a Christmas miracle for a snowy December 25th

Although the Chicago area may have had a few flurries here or there, as of Wednesday, December 22, Chicago has seen 281 days without measurable snow.

If snow doesn't come by midnight tonight (which is not in the forecast), the number will be 282.

Record year for no snow

According to Tom Skilling of WGN9 Chicago Weather, the record number of days without measurable snow in Chicago is 290, set in 2012. The second-longest was 280 days in 1994, which has been broken by this year's number of snow-free days.

Data from the National Weather Service shows that the first measurable snow in Chicago on average happens on November 16th. The record for the earliest measured snow was October 12, 2006.

Chicago has just surpassed the previous record for the latest measured snow in a season, which was formerly on December 20, 2012, when .2 inches fell.

When did it last snow in Chicago?

On March 15th, ABC7 meteorologists say that Chicago saw 1.8 inches of snow.

Other snowy Christmas facts

(Coming from the National Weather Service and Tom Skilling of WGN9):

  • Christmas is considered to be "white" if there is one inch of snow on the ground.
  • Chicago's snowiest Christmas was in 1950, with a snowfall of 5.1 inches.
  • Chicago's second snowiest Christmas was in 1909 at 5 inches.
  • Out of the last 135 years, Chicago has had 45 white Christmases.

White Christmases are rare in the U.S.

Despite Irving Berlin's famous song, "White Christmas," and the public's obsession with a snowy December 25, Christmas snowfalls are actually pretty rare in the U.S.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s latest map, northern Illinois has about a 25 to 40% chance of a white Christmas in any given year. (Although this year, the chance is almost none.)
A map of the United States showing the historic probability of at least 1 inch of snow on Christmas Day (based on climate data 1991-2020)NOAA

Your best bets for Christmas snowfalls are mainly in northern states like Maine, Upstate New York, and Minnesota. Your least chances of snowy Christmases are on the West Coast and in the southern states.

Weather forecast for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

The National Weather Service predicts a high near 50 degrees on Friday with a 40% chance of rain. On Christmas Day, it will be mostly cloudy with a high of 47 degrees.

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

Chicago, IL

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