El Nino is not on our side for a white Christmas

While visions of sugarplums dance in our heads and we dream of waking up to a fresh snow-packed Christmas morning in the D.C. area, Mother Nature’s scorecard is not in our favor.

Weather records dating back to the 1960s show Washington has a statistically more significant chance at a White Christmas when we are not in either a La Nina or El Nino pattern.

Three winters were considered “neutral,” which means not El Nino or La Nina, and brought the D.C. region a White Christmas. They include Dec. 25 of 1960, 1962 and 1963.

We did win the lottery with two El Nino winters (highlighted in the table below) that produced a White Christmas: 1966 and 2009. One rare La Nina winter brought a White Christmas to Washington on Dec. 25, 1989.

Washington's White Christmas Scorecard
Weather records dating back to the 1960s show the District is more likely to see snow on Christmas when we are NOT in either a La Nina or El Nino pattern. (WTOP/Chad Merrill)

What about this year?

We’re getting into a chilly pattern early this week but it’s fleeting.

A very strong Pacific jet stream, indicative of a strong El Nino, which is dominating our winter pattern, will bring an onslaught of Pacific storms starting late this week.

Unfortunately, for snow lovers, this means Washington will be on the warmer side with any precipitation just before and after Christmas being all rain.

There are weak signals that upstream northern Pacific ridging will send a cold snap into Washington after the holiday season (early 2024) and if the right pattern sets up, a dash of snow is possible. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, kids hoping to wake up to 1 inch of fresh snow on Christmas morning will have to keep dreaming of a White Christmas.

Chad Merrill

Chad Merrill is a meteorologist and digital weather content producer for WTOP. Prior to joining WTOP, Chad was a meteorologist in the private industry and television. He loves to share his passion with listeners and readers and is eager to hear from anyone who has any weather questions!

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