Chances of Snow for Christmas at USA Cities

Among America's large cities, only one has a really good chance of having a white Christmas. For most cities the odds of seeing any snow at Xmas are pretty slim.

The major urban area with the best chance of enjoying a traditional Christmas landscape is Minneapolis — St Paul Minnesota, where there's a 74 percent probability of having at least one inch of snow on the ground. In fact, the city is likely to have three or more inches of snow.

Three other large cities are also more likely than not to have some snow around on December 25: Buffalo, Rochester and Salt Lake City. Rochester even has a fifty-fifty chance of seeing fresh snow falling at Xmas.

The table below gives the probabilties of Christmas snow for 51 US cities.

While less than even, the odds of snow blanketing Milwaukee, Cleveland or Denver on Dec 25th are still pretty high, at 40 percent or more. For Pittsburgh, the chance of snow is nearly one in three, for Columbus about one in four and for Boston almost one in five. At New York, Cincinnati, Louisville and Baltimore, the likelihood of a snowy Xmas runs close to one in ten.

Not surprisingly, for many cities in Texas, California and Florida, there's zero chance of a white Christmas. At a few cities, such as Las Vegas and New Orleans, snow on Dec 25 isn't entirely impossible, but would make an astonishing event as the odds of it happening amount to much less than one percent.

Probability (%) of having Snow on the Ground of at least 1 inch deep or Snowfall of at least 0.1 inches on December 25.
City Snow on Ground Snowfall
Atlanta, Georgia 1 2
Austin, Texas 0 0.4
Baltimore, Maryland 10 7
Birmingham, Alabama 0 1
Boston, Massachusetts 19 17
Buffalo, New York 56 47
Charlotte, North Carolina 2 1
Chicago, Illinois 38 23
Cincinnati, Ohio 12 9
Cleveland, Ohio 44 35
Columbus, Ohio 24 24
Dallas, Texas 0.3 1
Denver, Colorado 40 17
Detroit, Michigan 38 29
Hartford, Connecticut 29 17
Houston, Texas 0 0.3
Indianapolis, Indiana 27 22
Percent chance of snow at Christmas.
City Snow on Ground Snowfall
Jacksonville, Florida 0.1 0.1
Kansas City, Missouri 17 9
Las Vegas, Nevada 0.3 0.2
Los Angeles, California 0 0
Louisville, Kentucky 11 10
Memphis, Tennessee 2 2
Miami, Florida 0 0
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 48 26
Minneapolis, Minnesota 74 30
Nashville, Tennessee 2 4
New Orleans, Louisiana 0.1 0.2
New York, New York 12 9
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 8 5
Orlando, Florida 0 0
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 8 8
Phoenix, Arizona 0 0
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 32 30
Chances of a white Xmas (percent)
City Snow on Ground Snowfall
Portland, Oregon 5 4
Providence, Rhode Island 22 15
Raleigh, North Carolina 3 1
Richmond, Virginia 6 4
Riverside, California 0 0
Rochester, New York 55 50
Sacramento, California 0 0
Salt Lake City, Utah 53 28
San Antonio, Texas 0 0
San Diego, California 0 0
San Francisco, California 0 0
San Jose, California 0 0
Seattle, Washington 2 4
St. Louis, Missouri 21 13
Tampa, Florida 0 0
Virginia Beach, Virginia 1 3
Washington, DC 8 6

About the Data

The snow probabilities were calculated by the NOAA National Climatic Data Center based on weather data collected from 1981 to 2010.

These major cities represent the 51 metropolitan areas in the United States with the most people, all those with over one million residents in 2010, according to the US Census Bureau. A complete list of America's largest urban centers is available here.


Imke Durre and Michael Squires. 2015. White Christmas? An Application of NOAA's 1981-2010 Daily Normals. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

National Climatic Data Center. NOAA's 1981-2010 Climate Normals.

US City Snowfall
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