With this arctic blast on the way, we will potentially experience the coldest Christmas in over 30 years! While the coldest air associated with this system will occur Thursday night through Saturday night, temperatures are forecast to remain cold on Christmas Day!
Christmas this year will feature plenty of sunshine for us here in the Tennessee Valley, but it won’t provide much warmth! When you wake up Christmas morning temperatures will only be in the teens, with feel-like temperatures near zero. Temperatures will then struggle to reach the upper 20 to low 30s by the afternoon. One item to note will be that the wind chill values on Christmas could stay in the upper teens to low 20s. It will be crucial for those heading outdoors to bundle up with a thick winter coat, hat, and gloves.
With the highs forecasted to reach the upper 20s to low 30s, we could indeed see the coldest Christmas in 37 years; this is looking at data from 1985 to the present. When looking at this data, most of the Tennesse Valley’s coldest Christmas was when highs warmed to the low 20s. The exception would be in Decatur where the coldest high temperature was 32 degrees in 2020.
When we look at Huntsville’s history specifically, the coldest occurred in 1985 when the high only reached 20 degrees. Every year after that reached 32 degrees or higher. The rare white Christmas for Huntsville in 2010 temperatures started off below freezing in the morning before rising to 41 degrees by the afternoon.
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 when 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 snowstorm 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.
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!