In the words of the great Bing Crosby, “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas.” Earlier this week, a storm system dumped a fair amount of the white stuff from New Mexico to Kansas. One city that will not have to worry about seeing a White Christmas is Hays, Kansas. They received greatest snowfall amount totaling around to a foot snow. Western portions of Nebraska, could still hang on to some snow, only if it doesn’t melt by this weekend. A cold front moved through the area Wednesday night/Thursday morning and brought some light snow, but it did not amount to very much. So, unfortunately it would take a “34th Street miracle” for us to see a White Christmas here in eastern Nebraska!
With this being my first winter in Lincoln, I was curious to see what past Christmas have been like in Lincoln and the Tri-cities. With the help of the National Weather Service Climatology Data, I did some research and this is what I came up with. I’ll start with the normals for Lincoln and Grand Island. The normal high temperature for Christmas Day in Lincoln is 36 degrees and 35 in Grand Island. The normal low temperature on Christmas in Lincoln is 16 degrees and 15 in Grand Island. This will be where we can set the bar for this upcoming Christmas weekend.
Looking back, I noticed that December of 1983 was down right brutal! There was a stretch of 188 hours where temperatures remained below zero. It began December 17, 1983 at 5:00 PM and lasted until December 25, 1983 at 1:00 PM. During this time period, many temperature records were broken. Lincoln and Grand Island both experienced record low temperatures of 16 below zero and only a measly high of 4 above in Lincoln on Christmas day. On the morning of December 22, of that same year, temps managed to plummet to 27 below and two days later the coldest daytime high temperature was a cool 10 degrees below zero. If the record cold temperatures give you bad memories, here are some temperatures in the positive direction that should make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
I had to look over a century ago to find the warmest temperatures recorded on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. Back in 1889, the warmest high temperatures in Lincoln were 62 degrees on Christmas Eve and 65 degrees on Christmas Day. More recently, the high temperatures were recorded in Grand Island. The record high temperatures were 62 degrees on Christmas Eve in 1917 and Christmas Day in 1999. There have been multiple Christmases in both cities where the highs have been in the 50s. These temperatures are more of what you would expect for Thanksgiving or Easter but not Christmas.
For all of you fellow snow-lovers out there, you will remember the White Christmases of years past. Most of you can recall the snowy winter in Lincoln from the “Christmas Storm” of 2009. Lincoln picked up a total of 9.5” of snow and Grand Island picked up 7.8”. From that storm, Lincolnites carried presents over the 10” on the ground and Grand Islanders trudged through 8” to Grandmother’s house. However, these were not the greatest snow depths on record for the holiday. The deepest snow depth in Lincoln was 14” and 15” in Grand Island on that cold Christmas day in 1983. The kids had plenty of snow to play in where a whopping 20” was reported in Grand Island in 1968.
Whether you enjoy the warm, cold, snow, or the lack of, Nebraskans have seen it all. Personally, I’m one that likes to see a few inches of snow on the ground for the holiday season. I also like dry road conditions and want to arrive to my destinations safely. So, no matter what kind of weather is going on outside, I hope that everyone spends the Holidays indoors with the ones they know and love. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the 1011 Pinpoint Weather Center!
-Meteorologist Tony DeGrand