White Christmas In MD: Will El Niño Bring Snow For Holidays?


El Niño is making winter wetter and warmer in Maryland. Higher temperatures mean it probably won’t snow on Christmas. A stock photo of kids sledding is shown here. (Shutterstock)

Patch manager Deb Belt originally posted this story.

MARYLAND — With all the talk of a strong El Niño climate pattern that will last through spring, does that increase or decrease the probability of a white Christmas in Maryland?

Historical averages for Maryland put the chances of at least an inch of snowfall on the ground Christmas morning at between 0 percent and 20 percent, according to the National Weather Service.

El Niño winters typically have above-normal precipitation, but with warmer-than-normal winter temperatures, it’s not guaranteed to come as snow.

In its 2023 white Christmas forecast, The Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests most snow-prone areas, except for the Pacific Northwest, will see above-normal snowfall, this Christmas. That makes the Northwest risky for holiday ski vacations, but the Rockies in the West and Appalachians in the East should have abundant snowfall, according to the forecast.

The forecast for Maryland suggests there will not be a white Christmas in the Atlantic corridor.

Chances for a white Christmas are dismal in big northeastern cities such as New York City, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., a NOAA meteorologist said.


Some of the nation’s top forecasters expect El Niño to dump disappointment on people who dream of a snowy Christmas.

“Weak, moderate, and strong El Niños all share similar features for the month of December,” John Baranik, a meteorologist for DTN, wrote in a blog post on Progressive Farmer earlier this fall. “It is usually very warm for most of the U.S. outside the Southwest where it is typically cooler, while precipitation increases are seen across the southern tier.”

The absence of blasts of cold, arctic air “does not mean that December will be warm every day, or that snow will not occur,” Baranik wrote, “but it does mean that the chances for a white Christmas are reduced for most of the country outside of the western mountains.”

Forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center said the December temperature outlook favors a broad area of above-normal temperatures for the eastern U.S., stretching from the northern Great Plains to the lower Mississippi Valley and eastward toward the coast.

AccuWeather has yet to issue its white Christmas forecast, but meteorologist Paul Pastelok told USA Today that aside from the mountain areas, he doesn’t expect a lot of snow at Christmastime in the East.

However, some areas of the West will probably see significant snowfall from mid- to late-December, Pastelok said. In western mountain regions, “there is a high percentage of a white Christmas in an El Niño year,” he added.

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