Science Beat: Students dreaming of a ‘White Christmas’, but past research says snow is unlikely

Despite snow being a nuisance in regards to transportation and body heat, some students say a snowy Christmas provides sentimental feelings for the holiday. (File/The Daily Campus)

As winter approaches, many are hoping for snow this upcoming holiday. For residents in Storrs, however, it is unclear if the University of Connecticut will have a white Christmas, said Xiusheng Yang, a UConn professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment and director of the Connecticut State Climate Center.

Yang said he believes it is difficult to predict what the weather will be like during Christmas week since the weather is bound to change, considering that it is expected to be warmer this winter.

According to an article on Climate.gov, the chance of a white Christmas at UConn is not likely, but definitely a possibility.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researched and discovered numbers that prove there could be snow present for this upcoming Christmas in Connecticut.

The NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) reports that the historic probability of at least one inch of snow on Christmas in the Mansfield area is 31 percent, based on data collected from 1981-2010.

On the American Meteorologist Society website, the NOAA published more about their findings from the three decade snowfall investigation with maps and tables that explore the chances of snowfall in the various states.

According to the results of the investigation, the NOAA found Connecticut to have a 25 to 50 percent chance of having at least one inch of snowfall on Christmas.

“Although the 1981–2010 statistics in no way represent a forecast for future conditions, they can nevertheless serve as a guide for setting expectations regarding which parts of the contiguous United States are most likely to experience a white Christmas,” NOAA author Michael F. Squires said in the article. “They suggest, for example, that the places where one is most likely to experience both snow on the ground and falling snow are in the Sierras and Cascades, on the leeward side of the Great Lakes and in northern New England.”

Yang has also monitored the chances of snow during the month of December in past years.

“For Storrs, the average number of snow days is around 1.5 per week, yielding a 20 to 25 percent chance of snow on any given day, assuming a random distribution of the precipitation events,” Yang said.

Although most students will not be on campus for vacation, students would love for a snowy Christmas to happen.

“I absolutely love snow on Christmas,” Amy Dave, a first-semester biomedical engineering student, said. “I’m not going to be at UConn during the break but I’m sure it would look amazing up here.”

Despite snow being a nuisance in regards to transportation and body heat, some students say a snowy Christmas provides sentimental feelings for the holiday.

“A white Christmas is like the cherry on top of a sundae,” first-semester math major Brian Gagnon said. “Despite being cold, snow on Christmas brings warm feelings.”


Jude Infante is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at jude.infante@uconn.edu.