(RNN) – History shows that the idyllic Christmas scene of landscapes thick with snow are more likely to happen in shopping center displays than reality, said the climate scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
A “white Christmas” is traditionally considered one with an inch or more of snow on the ground, NOAA explained.
For most of the U.S., the potential for that happening on Christmas Day is very low, according to data is based on the climate normals from 1981 to 2010 from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.
If you live in the northern Great Plains, Great Lakes or New England, you have a greater likelihood of seeing the snow fly. Deep South? Forget about it!
Some cities in the South, such as Birmingham, AL, have never seen a classic “white Christmas,” Though the National Weather Service in Birmingham said people saw flurries in 2010, the end result was not deep enough to measure.
Naturally, in places like Cleveland, chances are better, with the city getting snow roughly half the time.
In 2017, the Cleveland area received several inches of snow around Christmas, but the previous year, temperatures were in the 60s, WOIO reported.
However, just because it’s unlikely doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
North Carolina experienced a Christmas for the record books in 1989 when a snowstorm blew in a few days before Christmas, leaving 15 inches in Wilmington and 13 inches in Cape Hatteras - record snowfall for those places, the National Weather Service said.
Several inches of snow were still on the ground by Christmas Day, making memories that will last a lifetime for people in Wilmington. It was remarkable enough that WECT wrote a story on the 25th anniversary of the storm.
The U.S. has experienced some brutal weather around Christmas time.
Blizzards inundated areas of the Eastern Seaboard in 1969 both before and after Christmas, with Albany, NY, recording 26.7 inches of snow, Burlington, VT, getting 30 inches and 44 inches falling in Waitsfield, VT, according to the National Weather Service.
Back-to-back snowstorms around Christmas 2002 and New Year’s Day 2003 closed the New York State Thruway and canceled flights, ranking as the worst snowstorms of all time for the Northeast, the weather service said. Each of the nor’easters produced 20 inches of snow in Albany, NY.
In the South, Christmas tornadoes seem more likely than Christmas snowfall.
In 2015, severe weather hit during Christmas week - spawning 55 tornadoes in a seven-day span, including destructive Christmas Day tornadoes in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, AL, weather.com reported.
The day after Christmas in 2015, killer tornadoes struck north-central Texas, killing 11 people - including eight in Dallas and Rockwall counties, two in Copeville, and one person in Blue Ridge.
Tornadoes struck Mobile, AL, on Christmas Day 2012, a result of a severe weather outbreak in east Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle that year. Several people were injured in the metro Mobile tornadoes, the National Weather Service said.
Thirty-four tornadoes were chronicled in the 2012 severe weather outbreak, mostly in south Alabama and south Mississippi.