Dreaming of White Christmas in Nederland, Colorado

Well, it is December 23rd, 35F with light rain – yes, RAIN – here at 8200 feet in the Colorado Rockies. A plume of Pacific moisture is plastering the mountains of the Western United States with rain and snow. Here in the Colorado Front Range Foothills on the eastern side of the Continental Divide, we are getting down-sloped and as a result seeing much less precipitation. On top of that it is relatively warm, and what has been falling this evening has been mainly rain.

If you are a snow lover – and Nederland is normally a good place for snow lovers – this year has been rough. We’ve only had about 7.5 inches so for the season. We have a lot of ground to make up to even get close to our seasonal average snowfall of 155 inches.

How often do we have a white Christmas here in Nederland? It depends on what you consider that to be. Some consider a white Christmas to be one where snow is falling. Some consider a white Christmas to be one that simply has measurable snow on the ground. From my records since 2010, here are the Christmases we have had measurable snow on the ground:

Nederland Christmases with measurable snow on the ground

The -99 on 2010 is a trace of snow which is not considered a measurable amount. We have had three Christmases out of 11 since 2010 which have not had measurable snow on the ground. That means that we have about a 73 percent chance of a white Christmas based on measurable snow on the ground.

How about Christmases where snow has actually fallen?

Nederland Christmases with new snowfall

There have only been five Christmases since 2011 with measurable new snowfall. That means that we have only have a 45 percent chance of actual new snowfall on Christmas.

Of course, I only have 11 years of records, but these data give us a rough idea of just how often we have snow – in the air and on the ground – on Christmas.

National Weather Service snowfall forecast through Christmas morning

The current storm system will pump lots of moisture and produce heavy snow in the mountains of western Colorado. This is a warm storm, and the southwesterly wind flow will favor locations west of the Continental Divide with the highest precipitation amounts. Still, Nederland and the surrounding Foothills communities will see some snow and rain blow over the Continental Divide, and this could be just enough to give certain areas, particularly those and along and west of the Peak-to-Peak Highway a white Christmas.

The NWS is calling for anywhere from 1 to 3 inches of snow around Nederland. If enough cold air works in tonight and tomorrow, we will certainly see some snowfall.

Fingers crossed. Any moisture we get is a bonus particularly since we are in severe drought.

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