Indiana white Christmas -- How common is it?

Indianapolis' white Christmas chances 50/50

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indianapolis area typically has about a 50 percent chance of having snow fall or snow on the ground on Christmas Day.

National Weather Service records have been kept in Indianapolis since 1871. Since then, there has been a trace or more of snowfall on Christmas Day 64 times, or about 46 percent of the time, the Indianapolis NWS office said.

If you don't like those odds, it's even more likely that snow will be on the ground on Christmas Day, whether it falls on that day or beforehand.

NWS data showed that there was at least a trace of snow on the ground on Christmas Day 57 times between 1896, when snow depth records began, and 2011. That equates to about a 50 percent chance.

There was no snowfall or snow on the ground for Christmas last year, but 5 inches of snow was on the ground in Indianapolis for Christmas 2010.

If you count either snow on the ground or snowfall on Christmas Day as qualifying as a white Christmas, that has happened 82 times since 1871, or just below 60 percent.

The long-range forecast is just coming into focus. High temperatures will cool down quite a bit before Christmas, and there's a chance some precipitation could move into the area. The forecast will become much clearer over the next few days.

The most snowfall ever in Indianapolis on Christmas was 5.9 inches in 1909, and the most snow on the ground was 9 inches in 2004.

On Christmas 1893, the high temperature was 64, and the lowest temperature was 4 below zero in 1983.

Here's a map that shows historical white Christmas probability. Darker colors depict areas of higher probability. (Image courtesy National Weather Service)

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