Blast of Winter’s Past — The Rare ‘White Christmas’

The Weather Authority

Heading into Thanksgiving week, we are seeing the coldest air of the season so far! It will be feeling a little bit like winter across the area with lows falling back into the 20s, with some areas seeing a hard freeze. This had me thinking, how often have we actually seen snow on Christmas Day here in the Tennessee Valley?

Here in the Tennessee Valley, there have been numerous years where we have seen a trace of snow on Christmas Day. Here in the Huntsville area, there have only been two times where we have seen measurable snowfall on Christmas Day. The first was during a snow event in 1989 when we saw 0.30 inches of snowfall. The main snow event we saw in the area was the snow storm in 2010 that lead to 2.5 inches in Huntsville and 2.4 inches in Muscle Shoals. This was the only time Muscle Shoals has experienced a white Christmas.

Snowstorm of 2010

Here in the Tennessee Valley, a white Christmas is rare, but during 2010 it was a white Christmas for everyone! Many residents woke up on this Christmas morning to a blanket of snow, a present from Mother Nature. A broad area of low pressure moved eastward across the northern Gulf of Mexico on Christmas Eve and early Christmas morning. Along with this, a weak upper level disturbance approached the region from the west.

The above photos show the radar imagery from December 25th, 2010 at 3 a.m., 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Looking at the progression of this snow band, the wintry precipitation first occurred in northwestern Alabama and then moved eastward. During this period, a broad area of moderate to heavy snow developed and slowly moved through the Tennessee Valley. Within the heaviest bands of snow, visibility dropped to a half a mile or less! This was certainly a Christmas most in the area will always remember.

More on the ‘Rare White Christmas’

Temperatures in the low to mid-30s, moisture and a forcing mechanism helped support wintry precipitation in the area. The precipitation first started out as a light rain/snow mix, but as temperatures continued to fall below freezing it transitioned over to snow. Although it was a light snowfall in some locations, when it was all said and done, some spots had seen six to seven inches of snow!

As we get closer to the winter season you can count on the News 19 Weather Authority to keep you up to date with the forecast!

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