Sunday, December 15, 2013

History of Christmas Day weather in Memphis

As we enter the Christmas season and Mid-Southerners start wondering about the chances of a Bing Crosby Christmas, I thought this post would be a good one to re-visit and update.  So, what does history say about the chances of a white Christmas in the Bluff City?

Records that go back to 1889 show that Memphis had a measurable amount of snow on the 25th only once. That was in 1913 when 3.5 inches of snow fell on Christmas Day (1.4 inches was on the ground at 7:00 a.m. that day). Trace amounts (not enough to measure) fell on nine occasions - 1914, 1918, 1926, 1948, 1975, 1980, 1992, 2009, 2010, and most recently in 2012.  Last year, snow started at 11:53pm Christmas night [thus the "trace" of snow on Christmas Day] and by the next morning about 1" was on the ground.  We missed a White Christmas by a day!

There have been a few times when there was snow on the ground Christmas morning (from previous storms). The greatest was 1963 when 10 inches covered the city Christmas morning. 1962 and 2004 had 2 inches on the ground and there were patches of snow scattered around on Christmas morning in 1966.
The warmest temperature for Christmas Day was 76 degrees in 1889. 1983 had the coldest Christmas at zero (0) degrees.

While a Memphis snow is rare on Christmas Day, rain has fallen several times. Christmas was rainy 44 times in the last 136 years; sleet (or freezing rain) happened three times. The wettest Christmas Day came in 1987 when 4.24 inches of rain soaked Memphis.

Source: and NWS-Memphis climate records. Image is "Graceland Christmas" by Thomas Kinkade, borrowed from

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Gerri said...

Chances for a white Xmas?

Meteorologist Erik Proseus said...

A little too far out to really tell with any degree of accuracy - stay tuned!