According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, a "white Christmas" is defined by having an inch or more of snowfall on the ground Christmas morning.
Over the last 70 years, it is about a 50-50 split whether or not there is a white Christmas in Great Falls. It has been a few years since the city has met the criteria for a white Christmas. The last time was in 2017. Around two-thirds of Christmases have been white in Helena.
As expected, there is a wide range between the coldest and mildest temperature for most of central Montana. There has been everything from 50s to sub-zero temperatures throughout Christmas Day. In 2021, the high temperature in Great Falls was 7 degrees.
Confidence is very high that colder air settles into the Lower 48 states for the middle to end of December, keeping temperatures well below normal ahead of December 25th. The cold temperatures will aid in keeping the current snowpack intact.
However, the Pacific Northwest will be trending drier over the next couple of weeks. The latest Climate Prediction Center (CPC) outlook projects the end of the La Niña phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation by February or March. There is over a 70% chance of a transition to a neutral pattern. This further indicates the likelihood of drier than normal conditions across the Northern Rockies progressing further into winter.
Parts of central and eastern Montana have received double the climatological normal amount of snowfall thus far in the season. Great Falls already received half of its yearly total. Colder than normal temperatures should leave much of the snowpack unscathed, leading to higher than normal likelihood of a white Christmas.
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