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Forecasters handicap White Christmas odds at 20 percent or less

Forecasters are predicting a gradually increasing chill in the air over the next 10 days, bringing weather cold enough for snow around Christmas. But the odds of a White Christmas are still relatively slim.

The National Weather Service is calling for temperatures to slide about 10 degrees downward from where they are starting this week with highs in the mid-50s. Highs are expected to reach the mid-40s with lows around freezing by this weekend, according to the weather service's five-day forecast.

Forecasters at the Climate Prediction Center in College Park are expecting slightly above-average chances for cold temperatures and some precipitation for the weekend through the day after Christmas.

How the weather patterns play out precisely remains to be seen, of course. WBAL-TV meteorologist Tony Pann predicts a couple of wet systems moving through the region, each one progressively colder, leading to a possible clipper Dec. 24 or 25, he wrote in a blog post Friday.

Historically, though, it's rare to see a White Christmas in Baltimore, according to aweather service report on the event.

There has been either measurable snowfall or measurable snow on the ground from a previous snowfall on Christmas in Baltimore 20 percent of the time since 1888. But snowfall on Christmas is more rare, happening 12 times on record, about 10 percent of the time.

Most of us can recall one of the largest Christmas snowfalls, though that isn't saying much -- 1 inch of snow fell on Dec. 25, 2002. That is good enough for the sixth-snowiest Baltimore Christmas on record. Here are the top five:

  1. 1909 -- 9.3 inches
  2. 1969 -- 6.1 inches
  3. 1902 -- 3.0 inches
  4. 1962 -- 2.9 inches
  5. 1935 -- 1.2 inches

Have a weather question? E-mail me at sdance@baltsun.com or tweet to @MdWeather.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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