White Christmas looking highly unlikely this year

Mild pattern setting up next week in West Michigan
Posted at 6:00 PM, Dec 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 18:06:43-05

Despite an Arctic Blast with cold temperatures and lake effect snow for the middle of the week, a major weather pattern shift is expected by the weekend. This pattern shift will last into much of next week, which will include above average temperatures and a lack of snowfall.

An Arctic cold front will bring a brief shot of system snow -- followed by lake effect snow -- tonight into tomorrow morning. Temperatures will only be in the 20s for highs tomorrow behind this front, and a strong west/northwest wind will keep wind chill values in the single digits for most of the day.

However, this blast of cold air will be short-lived. By Thursday, highs will be in the middle 30s which is about average for this time of year. On Friday and Saturday, the jet stream will line up in an east-to-west fashion across the U.S.-Canada border. This will flood the northern tier states with mild, Pacific air which will yield highs in the lower 40s over the weekend.

Heading into the middle of next week, this pattern will change only slightly with the jet stream dipping somewhat into the southwest U.S. This will shift the flow more from southwest-to-northeast across Michigan -- still a very mild pattern for us. As a result, highs will remain in the 40s.

Even if temperatures were cold enough to support snow during this time, there don't appear to be any major weather systems to bring significant precipitation in the extended forecast. In fact, there will be a fair number of days with at least partial sunshine across the area.

Historically, a "brown" or "green" Christmas in West Michigan isn't that unusual at all. As statistics show below, it happens roughly 40% of the time.

Keep in mind, the official National Weather Service definition of a White Christmas is at least 1" of snow on the ground on Christmas morning when the official measurement is taken. That means a trace of snow doesn't count, and piles and banks of snow on an otherwise primarily snow-less landscape don't count either.

If you take a look at the national map, the above definition of a White Christmas is hard to achieve across most of the country. And only the far northern tier states and mountainous areas have a good chance of seeing a snow on Christmas on a consistent basis.

And even though odds favor us having a White Christmas here in West Michigan more than half the time, we're almost certain to have a "green" or "brown" Christmas 2019.