Dreaming of a white Christmas? Here's the odds of seeing snow in central Ohio

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As we inch closer and closer to the Christmas holiday one question we're fielding in the weather department is whether or not Central Ohio will have a "white Christmas."

Before we answer it let's look at how often that actually happens here.

Courtesy: NOAA

As you can see in the graphic above the odds of having a white Christmas in Columbus are right around 25% and historically that holds true.

So what exactly defines a white Christmas? In order to call it that there needs to be at least an inch of snow covering the ground on Christmas morning, or at the 7 a.m. observation.

The National Weather Service started keeping snow depth records for the Capital City in 1948. In the 68 Christmases that have followed we've seen at least an inch on the ground 17 times or 25% of the time.

The last "white Christmas" we had here in Central Ohio was in 2010 when we woke up to 1" blanketing the ground at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport (where the climate records are kept.)

The record snow depth of 9" belongs to Christmas 1960. I'm sure kids in Central Ohio had a blast that year.

Courtesy: WSI

So how are our prospects looking this year?

That's where things get a little tricky. Meteorologists use computer models to help them forecast the weather. We look at weather charts, take into account the overall pattern and use our past experience to make the forecast you see on 10TV every day. The further we are out from an event the more uncertainty there is in the forecast.

Despite this fact there are two weather models that do fairly well in the medium range (roughly three to seven days out). The graphic above represents the GFS model. Note the storm system it has moving north of Ohio. One the backside of it cold air will move in and possibly some lake-effect snow showers, although not much moisture is showing up in this particular scenario.

Courtesy: WSI

Another reliable model is the ECMWF. This one has a storm system in the vicinity on Christmas as well but it's location is a little more favorable for lake-effect snow showers here in Central Ohio.

In forecasting there's something we look for known as consensus. I once met a meteorologist who said that there's a guy who may not win every forecast competition but more often that not ends up in the top five - that guy's name is "consensus." In essence, when the weather models start to agree on a forecast the meteorologist interpreting them has a higher degree of confidence in what will happen in the future.

These two different scenarios give me confidence that we'll have a storm system in the area but it's still a little early to say exactly what track it'll take which will affect how much snow (if any) we actually get.

One thing is standing out, though - it's looking like we may need a little change in the forecast if we want to wake up to an inch of snow on the ground Christmas morning.

Courtesy: Iowa State

The above graphic reinforces this line of thinking. This is a look at a lot of different models and includes the model average (or consensus) as denoted by the little white squares along the line that's sort of in the middle. This too is calling for a little snowfall on Christmas but notice on the left hand side of it the highest total still comes in at just under a half inch.

Bottom line, an inch of snow on the ground on Christmas morning is looking like a bit of a stretch right now but light snow showers at times on the holiday do look likely.

Keep in mind this is a forecast and all forecasts get more and more accurate as we move closer to any given day (especially this time of year).

IF the forecast changes we'll let you know on-air and on-line so keep checking back with 10TV. We've got you covered.