A look at Christmas Day extremes

Christmas is coming up, and usually, the question on everyone's mind is, "Will we have a White Christmas?" You've likely already read or seen several different articles addressing the statistical probability of snow on Christmas, including here on Weather5280. With a ridge of high pressure moving across the middle of the country, it's more likely that many people will experience a sunny and mild Christmas this year.

Christmas closely coincides with the shortest day of the year for the Northern Hemisphere and also the coldest temperatures of the year. But the long-term average only tells one piece of the story. There's still a lot of variability in conditions on Christmas day, so let's take a look at some of the extremes.

The first map shows weather stations across the lower 48 states and their warmest maximum temperature recorded on December 25. Hoping you can one day experience an 80° Christmas? Better make your way down to the Gulf-coast or southern California. Can you believe that five stations in Texas have recorded record highs of 92° on Christmas Day? On the other hand, if you're a firm believer that Christmas should always be cold and stay below 50°, you'd be better suited to head to the Rockies or near the Canadian border around North Dakota and Minnesota.

Find an interactive version of this map and the warmest temperature recorded on Christmas Day near you here.

Warmest maximum temperature recorded on December 25

The second map shows the coldest minimum temperatures ever recorded on December 25. Most of the country has experienced a Christmas below freezing, although a few stations in southern Florida haven't even dropped below 50°!

In the north and mountains, Christmas has gotten downright frigid. Big Falls, Minnesota took the prize with a -50° on Christmas in 1933, and Loma, Montana also got that cold in 1983. For many stations, their coldest Christmas temperature also occurred in 1933 or 1983. Extreme Christmas cold has happened more recently, too, with 79 stations recording their coldest Christmas temperature of below 0° in 2017.

Find an interactive version of this map and the coldest temperature recorded on Christmas Day near you here.

Coldest minimum temperature recorded on December 25

Let's have a closer look at some Colorado Christmas extremes. It's no surprise that the warmest temperature for the state happened in Las Animas in southeast CO. In 1955, they hit 79°. In fact, 19 stations had their warmest Christmas in 1955, even in the high elevations, with a balmy 41° at Taylor Park. 1971 was another warm Christmas. More recently, 2005 saw a bunch of high-temperature records topple. That year, Denver's high was a record-breaking 69°.

The winner for the coldest Christmas in the state is Gunnison. In 1924, they plummeted to a -47°. Not only was that their coldest Christmas on record, but it's also the coldest temperature they've ever observed, with the station reporting all the way back to 1893! 1983 was a very cold Christmas for the state, with 31 stations breaking their record low for the day. That included a -10° in Denver and a -15° in Colorado Springs. Our most recent widespread cold Christmas occurred in 2012.

Becky Bolinger

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