Want a White Christmas This Year? Head to One of These Five U.S. Cities for the Snowiest of Holidays

Although I know as an adult that snow is a bear to deal with, I still have a soft spot for a good old-fashioned white Christmas. If you, too, get all nostalgic at the prospect of fluffy white flakes falling gently from the sky on Christmas morning, this one’s for you: AccuWeather did a little number crunching and determined the five U.S. cities most likely to see a white Christmas this year. And if you don’t want a white Christmas? Well, now you know the places to stay away from at all costs. Take your pick; either way, these stats are going to be useful.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there has to be at least one inch of snow on the ground in order for the holiday to be considered a white Christmas. AccuWeather meteorologist Jim Andrews says that snowfall happening on or right before Christmas day is obviously ideal; however, an earlier snowfall will work, too, as long as it stays cold enough for the snow to stick around. I actually didn’t know there was a technical definition for what makes a Christmas a white one; personally, I’m usually happy even if it’s just a sprinkling of the stuff, but whatever. TIL, right?

In order to calculate the probability of major U.S. cities — that is, places with populations over 250,000 — AccuWeather took a look at data gathered by the NOAA between the years of 1981 and 2010. Here are the top five winners (or losers, depending on your perspective):

1. Minneapolis

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Be honest: Are you really surprised to see Minneapolis take the top spot? According to AccuWeather’s data, the city’s average snowfall for the month of December is 11.5 inches; additionally, there’s a 77 percent chance of there being at least an inch on the ground this year. With luck, though, it won’t be quite as bad as the snowiest Christmas on record: A total of 9.6 inches fell from the sky on the holiday itself in 1945.

2. Denver

Not sure if you actually want to experience a white Christmas? Denver’s the place to be: With a 50 percent chance of snow on the day itself, the city might easily go either way. Says Jim Andrews, “Denver’s climate is volatile in December. It can be exceptionally warm on Christmas Day with temperatures nearing 70 F, or it can be near minus 20 F.” At least those two measures are the absolute extremes — hopefully the real deal will fall somewhere nicely in between.

3. Milwaukee

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Milwaukee clocks in at third place, with a 47 percent probability of having a white Christmas. The snowiest it’s ever been on the holiday? 5.7 inches in 1950. December’s total snowfall usually averages out at around 10 and a half inches.

4. Detroit

Technically Detroit and Milwaukee should probably be tied; Motor City also has a 47 percent chance of snow on Christmas. However, it has a slightly lower average snowfall for the month of December: 9.7 inches.

5. Buffalo

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Given how badly Buffalo got hammered a few weeks ago, I personally think it’s pretty likely that they’ll have some snow up there for the holidays (blame the lake effect). Like Detroit and Milwaukee, its probability measures in at 47 percent; the most it’s ever gotten on a single Christmas was 8.4 inches, which happened in 2002.

Images: Getty Images (3); Alan Cordova, Moon Man Mike/Flickr