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What's the Chance of a White Christmas in Albuquerque?

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House in Snow © Aileen O'Catherine
Question: What's the Chance of a White Christmas in Albuquerque?
Answer: In short, not usually much.

That's because Albuquerque only receives 11 inches of snow every year. But if there's one month that stands out when it comes to snowfall in Albuquerque, that's December. The probability of getting snow in December is a little larger in December, when we've got an 84% chance of getting snow.

Albuquerque might be the desert (the high desert), but we do get the seasons. In New Mexico, the higher your elevation, the greater the chance of getting snow. At more than 5,000 feet above sea level, Albuquerque stands a chance at getting some precipitation. The question is, will it fall in time for snow on Christmas day?

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), or the scientific weathermen, Albuquerque does have some chance of snow on Christmas day:

Albuquerque

Elevation (feet) 5314
Period of record in years: 117
Probability of seeing snowflakes: 13%
Probability of a measurable snowfall: 7%
Probability of any snow on the ground: 13%
Probability of at least one inch of snow on the ground: 8%
Probability of seeing snowflakes and having snow on the ground: 2%

According to the NOAA, the heaviest snows in New Mexico occur on the eastern plains. These are the storms that take low levels of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and sprinkle it across the central and southern part of the state. That moisture tends to produce the heaviest and most widespread of snowfalls. Because of that, Roswell on the eastern plains has roughly the same probability of seeing snowflakes as Albuquerque.

What are the chances of seeing 1" or more of snow on the ground on Christmas day in Albuquerque?

That depends on where you are in the city. The probability of snowfall in the valley ranges from 1 in about 15. The probability in the foothills ranges 1 in 5, and in the east mountain communities of Sandia Park and Cedar Crest, it ranges 1 in 3 or 4.

Find out more about Albuquerque's annual snowfall.

White Christmas Past

There have been quite a few snow on Christmas events in Albuquerque since official record keeping began in 1892.

  • 1901 Christmas day saw a trace of snow!
  • 1905 Christmas day saw one inch of snow.
  • 1911 2" of snow fell from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m. on Christmas day.
  • 1914 It snowed 6" on Christmas eve.
  • 1923 Christmas day saw a trace of snowfall.
  • 1924 It snowed 3" on Christmas eve.
  • 1939 There was 0.3" of snow recorded at the airport.
  • 1945 A trace of snow fell on Christmas day.
  • 1948 A trace of snow fell on Christmas day.
  • 1952 Albuquerque got 0.2" on the 21st, 0.6" on the 23rd, and 0.1" on Christmas eve.
  • 1957 It snowed 2.9" on Christmas eve at the airport, where the weather station is located. There was probably even more snow in other parts of the city.
  • 1962 Christmas day got an inch of snow.
  • 1974 The snow began to fall on Christmas afternoon, with 3.5" accumulated later that night.
  • 1975 Christmas eve got 0.3" of snow.
  • 1982: A trace os snow fell on Christmas day only to be melted by rising temperatures.
  • 1983: 0.8" of snow fell on Christmas day.
  • 1987: Flurries fell on Christmas day, following 0.4" on Christmas eve.
  • 1990: The airport weather station noted there was 1" snow on the ground on Christmas day, left from a storm a few days before. The new foothills weather station near Montgomery and Tramway noted the snow deth was still 9" on Christmas day.
  • 1997: A storm from December 20-23 left a trace of snow at the airport on Christmas day, and 6 inches at the NE station.
  • 1999: The NE weather station reported 1 inch of snow falling on Christmas day, with a mix of rain and snow at the airport station that day.
  • 2000: Snow fell on Christmas day but the tempertatures kept it from accumulating. But by Christmas night, and on the 26th, Albuquerque's airport station reported 6/1" and the NE station 7". The east mountain communities had 8 to 10 inches of snow.
  • 2002: A trace of snow came to Albuquerque on Christmas eve.
  • 2006: Although it was too late for Christmas, this year's storm made for fun snow during winter break. Albuquerque got a record 16.3 inches over two days on December 29 and 30.
The question is: will we see any snow this Christmas? Let's hope so!

And in case we do, find out where to get information on Albuquerque winter advisories.
Find winter activities in and around Albuqueruqe.

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