This is the time of year when demand is put on meteorologists to give the public what they want for Christmas. While some may like wearing shorts on Christmas, it seems the overwhelmingly majority wants cold air, and most importantly snow, on Christmas. Now, I am usually not one to look at models beyond 8 days, as model accuracy usually begins to diminish around that time. Meteorologists also use many different models to make a forecast and sometimes you can have two really good models showing two totally different scenarios for the same time period, especially further out in time. Most models are run twice to four times a day, so you also look for run-to-run consistency within one single model. So why am I explaining all of this? The simple answer is that when it comes to the forecast Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we have neither run-to-run consistency or computer model agreement so far, which makes the forecast very tricky.
Since it is Christmas and the forecast is approaching the 7-8 day mark, I’ll go through what COULD happen, based off of what the latest major models are showing. The two models I’ll be showing are the American model and the European model. Keep in mind, everything I’m stating now could be different by the end of this week!
Let’s start where the models do agree. They both show a strong Arctic cold front slicing through the southeast within the next 6-9 days. Both models eventually show very cold air coming to most of the U.S. over the next week to ten days. Unfortunately, when it comes to Christmas Eve which is the day I’ll be showing, the model forecasts look totally different.
The latest American model comes in much more aggressive with the front, bringing it in by Friday. It pushes high temperatures into the upper 40s/lower 50s by Saturday the 23rd. It brings a secondary, even colder, blast of Arctic air in by Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It shows highs barely reaching the low 40s Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with temperatures Christmas morning possibly in the 20s. It also shows some sort of light winter precipitation dancing around the area on Christmas Eve. Winter precipitation somewhere across Texas or the southeastern U.S. is a scenario the American model has been advertising the past several days. Below is a snapshot of the American model on Christmas Eve.
Now, the European model, although coming more in line with the American model in recent days, is still different. It shows the warm air holding on across the area Christmas Eve with the front getting hung up to the north, or actually moving back northward as a warm front. This is due mainly to a difference in the upper-level pattern shown across the U.S. during this time. If this model were to verify, highs could be in the mid-upper 70s Christmas Eve. If you’re keeping track, that is a 30 degree difference from the American model at the same time period! It does, however, show the coldest air arriving Christmas Day, with temperatures dropping rapidly during the afternoon. It does show highs in the 40s the two days at Christmas, and also flirts with the idea of winter precipitation somewhere across the area the 26th or the 27th. For the sake of this blog, I’ll focus more on the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, since the days after are too far out in time to really take seriously. Here’s a snapshot of the European model on Christmas Eve.
Bottom line, If you are a cold weather lover and want to have even a small chance to see snow Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, The American model is the model to root for. It has backed off significantly on showing winter precipitation across the south-central U.S., but it’s been flipping back and forth, so that could change. Uncertainty is still high, so we can still easily be sitting around in short sleeves and shorts on Christmas Day. At least the forecast could be a little interesting this year and not the clear-cut warm forecast that’s usually to be expected. I do feel the latter half of December will be cold with both models showing cold air coming in at some point. The key is knowing when the cold air will come in and how cold things could be. Stay tuned!
~Meteorologist Trevor Sonnier