In the past 114 years, Columbians have enjoyed a white Christmas 28 times. Whether 2004 will be the 29th time remains anyone’s guess. However, cold weather will be a certainty for the end-of-the-week holiday.
Vince Acquaviva, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in St. Louis, said a storm developing in Texas will bring snow to Missouri. The weather service predicts snow will begin falling early Wednesday morning and continue until the evening. Although Acquaviva is forecasting a storm, he said Columbia wouldn’t see as much snow as its southern neighbors.
“The main track of the storm will be along northern Arkansas. It will brush the Bootheel and move through western Kentucky and southern Illinois. Interstate 44 will be the northern fringe of the snowfall.”
The snowfall in Missouri will vary.
“I expect sharp gradients from southwest to east-central Missouri,” Acquaviva said. “Six inches are expected in southeastern Missouri. Jefferson City could receive 2 to 3 inches, while
Columbia might get an inch or dust.”Patrick Guinan, Missouri state climatologist, drew similar conclusions about holiday snowfall.
“It looks like this year, southeast Missouri has a better chance of a white Christmas than other parts of the state due to a weather system affecting that area on Tuesday night and Wednesday,” he said.
Because of the below-freezing temperatures expected for Columbia throughout the week, any
snow that does fall is expected to linger until Dec. 25.
“The ground is frozen,” Guinan said. “Any snow that falls is going to stick.”
Since 1889, Columbia has had 28 white Christmases. Since 1995, the city has had four, with the last one in 2002. Guinan defines a white Christmas as a Christmas day with at least 1 inch of snow on the ground.
On Monday, Acquaviva said the potential for a white Christmas in Columbia this year is 40 to 50 percent.
Guinan said predicting seasonal weather from one year to the next can be difficult.
“There’s no strong indicator for what to expect on temperature and precipitation patterns this winter,” he said. “The best way to determine whether there will be a white Christmas is to ask, ‘What’s typical?’”