Where in the US is a white Christmas most likely this year?

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, AccuWeather meteorologist
December 18, 2017, 3:10:06 PM EST

Several storm systems will impact the central and eastern United States during the days leading up to Christmas and will determine who will and will not experience a white Christmas.

A white Christmas in the U.S. is defined as having an inch or more of snow on the ground on the morning of Dec. 25.

The greatest chance of a white Christmas will be across the Midwest, Great Lakes, northern New England and the Rockies,” AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said.

A storm system will bring a swath of heavy snow from the northern and central Rockies and Plains to the Midwest and northern Great Lakes Wednesday night through Friday.

Several inches of snow will fall in major cities such as Denver and Minneapolis while other areas could see up to a foot of snow.

Waves of cold air will plunge behind this system at the end of the week and into the weekend across the central U.S. This fresh cold will help keep most of the snowpack around for Christmas.

“Areas across the northern Plains and Colorado Front Range where the ground is bare now, this storm system and colder pattern will reverse that and bring a snowier scene just in time for Christmas,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Dave Samuhel said.

While cold air pours across the central U.S., it will be a different story for the Southeast, mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

“A ridge of high pressure across the Southeast will bring above-average warmth to most of the East during the days leading up to Christmas,” Pastelok said.

This will likely squash white Christmas chances for the major I-95 cities in the Northeast including Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Boston.

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While some snow still coats the ground across the Northeast from previous storms, it is not expected to last across the region.

However, a few areas where the snow will likely last through Christmas will be western and upstate New York to northern New England where the snowpack is deep. While mild air will melt some of the snow, most of it will remain.

The wild card leading up to Christmas will be where cold and warm air clash. The battle zone is expected to set up across the south-central U.S. to the Great Lakes and interior Northeast over the weekend and through Christmas Day.

“There could be a significant storm system that forms near this boundary,” Samuhel warned.

If such a storm were to form, a wintry mix of snow and ice could develop on Christmas Eve and Christmas as far south as Texas and Oklahoma to the Great Lakes and interior Northeast.

While this would bring a white Christmas to some areas that normally do not see one, it could also have major travel implications.

Historically, there are several areas in the U.S. that often experience a white Christmas. The northern tier of the country where it is often colder usually has an inch of snow on the ground on Dec. 25.

Areas in and around the Rockies in the western U.S. often have plenty of snow built up by Christmas. Favorable lake-effect snow areas around the Great Lakes also have a moderate to high chance each year of waking up to snow on Christmas.

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