Tuesday, December 20, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Will it snow Christmas?

Will it snow in Arkansas on Christmas Day?

The long-term odds are against it and so are the short-term odds as temperatures are forecast to be close to 70 degrees – that’s right, a Florida Christmas.

But this is Arkansas and things can change quickly. Look at last Saturday when, at a balmy 77 degrees, we nearly broke the all-time warmth record for that day of 78 degrees…then five hours later, boom, it was in the mid-30s, and continued downward. On Sunday, it never got above 33 degrees. Monday night the low was 13.

So even though the forecast says no snow, one never knows.

Back in 2012, central Arkansas was hit with nine to 11 inches of snow, depending on your exact location, piled up officially on Dec. 25. This was the first Christmas snow that stuck in more than 80 years!

Looking at the entire period of weather records from 1875 to 2015, snow fell on Christmas Day a dozen times (measurable four times and flurries or trace amounts the other eight times), meaning, on average about every 12 years.

In three other years, no snow fell, but there was measurable snow already on the ground. Add them up, and we have snow on Christmas Day about every nine years.

In 1887, 1914, 1918, 1935, 1939, 1975 and 2009 snow fell with no accumulation.

In 1876, two inches of snow was on the ground from snowfall on Christmas Eve.

In 1879, Christmas Eve rain changed to a mix of sleet and snow during the afternoon. By night the ground was covered with snow and still was Christmas morning.

In 1897, an inch of snow fell on Christmas Day but most was gone that evening.

In 1913, snow started late Christmas Eve and continued for about 12 hours, dropping 1.5 inches of snow, but a warm Christmas afternoon melted most of it away.

On Christmas Day in 1926, sleet began falling and then changed to snow, leaving us with 1.7 inches of sleet and 2.5 inches of snow.

On Christmas Eve in 1962, it snowed an inch and a half during the day but melted quickly during the night leaving only patches of snow on the ground Christmas morning. But that still counts.

In 1963, four inches of snow were on the ground Christmas Day, left over from a 9.8-inch snowfall on Dec. 22.

In 1975, it snowed on Christmas afternoon, leaving a trace.

Then in 1983, it snowed two inches a few days before Christmas, but because of the cold weather, it was still on the ground for Christmas.

In 1990, 2.4 inches of snow and sleet fell on Dec. 22-23 and some of it remained for Christmas.

In 2000, there was some snow on the ground in northern and western Arkansas on Christmas Day. In central Arkansas, a trace of sleet and freezing rain had accumulated on the ground, but later on Christmas, one of the largest ice storms in recorded history hit and shut the state down for the remainder of the year.

In 2004, roughly three inches of snow fell Dec. 22 with an inch still on the ground on Christmas Day. In 2009, light snow began a little before midnight on Christmas Eve, leaving patches on the ground for Christmas ambience.

But whether it’s a white Christmas or not, it is the season to check on neighbors, friends and pets. Be sure they are safe from the cold and from the heat.

December, January and February are the leading months for house fires in this country. More than one third of fire deaths typically occur during the winter months.

To avoid fire accidents, make sure central heating systems are in proper working order. Space heaters need to be at least 36 inches away from any flammable materials. The heaters should not be left on when no one is present or when people are asleep. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed to provide an early warning when gas begins to build up.

’Tis the season to be safe, above all else.