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How common is a white Christmas in Denver? Historical weather data tells us the odds

walking a dog in the snow
Posted at 1:30 PM, Dec 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-22 17:06:00-05

DENVER — Waking up to a white Christmas is possibly among the top five greatest holiday gifts of all time, especially if you’re experiencing it for the first time. But what are the odds of it happening in Denver overall? Historical weather data can give us some answers.

A white Christmas is officially defined as having at least 1 inch of snow on the ground at 7 a.m. local time on Christmas Day, according to the National Weather Service.

So what does that mean for Denver?

If we go by that definition, then the chances of a white Christmas in Denver and the metro are about 37%, based on the number of times we’ve had one inch or more of snow on the ground since the NWS began taking snow depth measurements in 1900.

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I know what you’re thinking, "Who cares about time when airplanes were just taking off? Tell me the odds from the past 30 years!”

Fine. If you want to look back at a time when the original “Jurassic Park” dominated the box office (oh man, I’m getting old), Denver has woken up to a white Christmas on just 13 days within that time frame, or 43%, for the math geeks.

Now you’ll say, “OK, but what about since the turn of the millennium? How many white Christmases have we seen since?”

There’s been quite a few white Christmases since 2000, and all happened after a truly memorable one from 2006.

“Christmas 2006 will be remembered as another truly white Christmas,” NWS officials wrote in their record of Christmas summaries for Denver. “The Denver area had just dug out of the December 20-21 blizzard which buried the city under nearly 2 feet of snowfall. There was still 15 inches of snow on the ground Christmas morning, and a light dusting of new snow (officially 0.2 inches) fell on Christmas Eve.”

Since 2017 though, it’s been “another dry Christmas with no snow on the ground” on the summaries provided by the NWS.

Will we have a white Christmas in 2023? Here's what the latest forecast says.