First white Christmas in Atlanta since 1882, NCDC gets new snow record in their own backyard

Apologies to my readers and my family, I made the mistake of watching TV today. So I had to report on this rare weather event.

Click for the full story at the Atlanta Journal Constitution

Here’s what the National Weather Service serving Atlanta says about it:

Climatology for Christmas Day

As Christmas Day draws closer, many questions arise about what kind of weather Georgia has seen on Christmas. What has been the warmest Christmas? When was the coldest Christmas? Has Georgia ever seen a white Christmas? Here is some information that will answer some of these questions.

On average, high temperatures ranged from the mid 40s across north Georgia to the mid 60s across central Georgia. The average low temperatures range from the mid 20s across north Georgia to the mid 40s across central Georgia. However, days of Christmas past have been quite warm with the record high temperatures in the 70s across north and central Georgia. We have also seen bitterly cold Christmas days where record low temperatures were in the single digits.

Record Temperatures for December 25
Atlanta Athens Macon Columbus
Max Min Max Min Max Min Max Min
Record Temp. (°F) 72 0 77 3 78 7 76 8
Year 1889 1983 1955 1983 1889 1983 1955 1983

While most Christmas days have been dry, record rainfall amounts have exceeded 2.0 inches at all of the climate sites.

Record Precipitation for December 25
Atlanta Athens Macon Columbus
Precipitation (inches) 2.06 2.52 2.68 3.32
Year 1945 1945 1964 1964

Although we have had very cold Christmases, records show that White Christmases are rare in Georgia. The only locations that have received measureable snowfall are Atlanta and Athens, although Columbus had a trace of snow in 1970. Macon has never seen snow on Christmas day.

Snowfall on December 25
Atlanta Athens Macon Columbus
Number of Days snowfall ≥ 0.1″ 2 1 0 0
Number of Days snowfall = Trace 13 1 0 1

Record Snowfall on December 25
Atlanta Athens Macon Columbus
Snow Amount 1.6 0.2 0 Trace
Year of Occurence 1881 1993 1970

[ Average Maximum Temperature for Dec 25. ]

Avearage Maximum Temperature for Dec. 25th.

[ Average Minimum Temperature for Nov. 25. ]

Average Minimum Temperature for Dec. 25th.

*The above data is based on climate and coop stations with at least 20 years of data.

Compare to their graphicast:

Nationally, it looks like about half of the USA had a white Christmas:


Even Tom Karl and Thomas C. Peterson at the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville got dumped on – 9 inches worth. Merry Christmas fellows!

It seems there was “shrinkage” in the record though:

The difference is probably due to reporting periods. The remainder of the 9 inches likely came after midnight.

While the upcoming cold won’t be a record, it is chilling. I wonder if Mr. Karl and Mr. Peterson will make it into work tomorrow?


We’ll stand by for the inevitable stories blaming this on global warming climate change climate disruption.

Alright I’m done for today, off to return some gifts and try out some new ones!

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Richard Sharpe
December 26, 2010 10:57 am

Of course, you know that this is caused by Global Warming, which is, in turn, caused by human behavior, don’t you.
Indeed, that is the catch all. The original sin of human behavior is causing climate disruption.
For a small tithe[1] I can provide you with an indulgence that will make you feel better.
[1] Some authorities call that a tax.

December 26, 2010 10:59 am

Merry Christmas!

December 26, 2010 11:01 am

You know, I can understand when the scientists say that there will be more precipitation due to global warming. It makes sense. Warmer air temps carry more moisture and when it reaches a certain point it falls as snow or rain.
Where they completely lose me is in the areas that don’t normally get snow. If there is a region with generally warm climate, and the climate is getting warmer, wouldn’t all that excess moisture fall as rain? Doesn’t it have to be cold(er) to have snow fall?

James Allison
December 26, 2010 11:10 am

Who was it again who said that snow is becoming a rare and exciting event. 🙂

R. Shearer
December 26, 2010 11:15 am

Meanwhile in the Denver area we are having another high in the 50-60’s. Snow at the ski resorts is still good but few of us have had to use the snow shovels yet this season.
Slightly off topic, but this post describes how a professional skier has changed her life for the “environment.”

December 26, 2010 11:16 am

Global Cooling – Warning, Warning – Global Cooling
Seriously, the Global Warming skeptics and critics should put the possibility of Global Cooling front and center in the media. There is the evidence of minimum sunspot activity, which has correlated with historic low temperature spells. 400 years of observations and historic weather records without the need to cherry pick tree rings. Snowfall up to your ankles or knees is difficult to ignore.
And by saying it is Global Cooling, you are telling everyone that the people shouting Global Warming is the culprit are people so dogmatic they cannot tell cooling from warming. Put them on the defensive and argue against the Sun.

Harry Eagar
December 26, 2010 11:17 am

I lived in Atlanta 1953-1963. Snow was very rare, but ice storms occurred just about every year. One year schools were closed for a week because there was not enough natural gas to heat them.
It gets cold in Georgia, it just doesn’t get snowy.

Robert M
December 26, 2010 11:25 am

Pesky Global Warming Strikes again!

December 26, 2010 11:31 am

“Columbia, S.C., had its first significant Christmas snow since weather records were first kept in 1887.”

December 26, 2010 11:33 am

I remember some snow during the winter of 1976/1977 in Augusta, GA. It was just a dusting but it drove the locals crazy.

December 26, 2010 11:38 am

what does that do to the libido … sorry, I mean albino … reflecting all that heat … I mean to say … all this colding causing the warning … very dangerous … the government should ban it.

December 26, 2010 11:39 am

With regard to Asheville – the “in town” amount and official airport could vary a few inches – the airport is well south of town. That gps location cited above seems to be just south of the Hospital which is several miles north of the airport. Our county varies wildly in terrain and weather (I would argue climate too.) There’s a short ridge between Asheville and Weaverville to the North of the county that in my opinion/experience divides climate zones – many times we’ll have rain in town and snow to the north in Weaverville or a mix in town and rain at the airport. (The airport is on the county line with Henderson County to our south.) Records were kept downtown until the late 60’s I believe and then the official recording station was moved to the airport. I’m not certain but I would believe the airport location is also close to the lowest elevation in the county.

December 26, 2010 11:45 am

Just looked and it’s about 12 miles from the gps given reporting location to the airport. It’s not unusual either in our county for the north end of the county to linger in snow showers for several days with the south end being in full sun ?uplift? of moisture as wind blows from the north/northwest. Asheville proper can be hit or miss when those snow showers settle in, but the airport rarely sees them.
I would love to see what kind of records we would set if they moved the official recording station up to the north end of the county! This is one area where I think it really could make a difference between 15-17 inches of snow a year on average and 25 inches on average… and probably an average of 5-8 degrees cooler too.

December 26, 2010 12:04 pm

Excellent point Richard North. If the EPA would also get their act together and pass some regulations to keep the Suns energy output within limits agreed upon by all UN member nations, all of our weather and climate problems could be solved.

Baa Humbug
December 26, 2010 12:12 pm

The bigger the alarmists lies, the louder they cry about it, the worse the weather seems to be getting. Mmmm I might have to rethink the atheist thingy.
Now Anthony, you’re a good bloke and all, but getting back to posting after just two days???? Does the saying “sucker for punishment” apply in the States?

December 26, 2010 12:23 pm

@James Allison
They have right even when they have wrong LOL

December 26, 2010 12:31 pm

you are reading this before 2011, you have fallen off the wagon again. We really must get you some help…
Happy New Year

Joseph in Florida
December 26, 2010 12:36 pm

Tuesday coldest day ever recorded in Ireland
But even worse, the tomato crop in Florida was frozen this December — and I do so love tomatoes.

Brian H
December 26, 2010 1:19 pm

warming change disruption are all obsolete. It’s now ICS — “Irritable Climate Syndrome”, by consensus of the readers of .

December 26, 2010 1:51 pm

Baa Humbug says:
December 26, 2010 at 12:12 pm
Does the saying “sucker for punishment” apply in the States?
It’s “glutton for punishment” in the US.

December 26, 2010 1:59 pm

First white Christmas ever for Birmingham, Alabama

JRR Canada
December 26, 2010 2:02 pm

I spend too much time reading WUWT, bad Anthony yes its addictive and habitforming but hide laptop and disable desktop til 2011. Looks like your blog is in good hands back to your loved ones. Happy New Year and thanks.

December 26, 2010 2:14 pm

Started snowing in the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area in the evening of christmas, still snowing, well over a foot in my yard. Shoveled twice, still accumulating as of 1700 est. Never seen anything close to this since I moved out of the Black Hills in SD. On a whim, I bought a snow shovel on thursday. Hunch pays off.
Everything is shutting down here, I usually laugh at the folly of snow impaired drivers and the panic over a few flakes, but this is bad enough that even I will not go out on the roads unless it is an emergency.
This is only a weather event (since it’s cold) it has nothing to do with climate.

December 26, 2010 2:15 pm

Anthony has been/is being a very bad boy.
If nobody replied to his posts, would he take some time off ??

December 26, 2010 2:31 pm

When i used to live in N. Carolina in the early 90s i used to visit my cousins west of Atlanta for Christmas, i remember one time, 90 i think we were up late partying around 2 or so Christmas morning and time to make a beer run and it was snowing like crazy. We went outside and had a blast, completely forgot we needed beer, by the time we were too tired to do anything else and went in it was 6 and stopped snowing and we past out. Good times had by all.

spangled drongo
December 26, 2010 2:42 pm
December 26, 2010 3:37 pm

“Of course, you know that this is caused by Global Warming”
Heh. Sure enough, there’s an article – link below – in today’s New York Times that says that, indeed, and in so many ways, cold and snow are caused by global warming.
(I went to put a link on “Tips & Notes to WUWT” and two other readers had beaten me to it.)
I’m off to don a hair shirt (both to do penance for my environmental guilt and to keep warm in the global warming blizzard currently striking the US Northeast).

December 26, 2010 3:42 pm

I live 30 miles SW of Asheville, and we’re snowed in at the moment. I posted some pix of the “global warming” at Weather Underground.

Chris Clark
December 26, 2010 3:47 pm

The interesting thing about this is that, despite not having snow since the 19th century, Atlanta still had stocks of salt available and teams ready to spread them within 24 hours (or actually less, given that it snowed on Christmas Day). Meantime, we learn that during the third cold winter in a row Heathrow airport can still be disabled by more than 1″ of snow. Congrats to the Atlantans (Atlanteans? Atalantans?), and a kick up the Khyber to British Airports Authority.

December 26, 2010 4:05 pm

We were going to visit my bro in Va. Beach this week to get some warmth but Piers Corbyn’s weather forecast put us off – Thank God! Drive or fly? Either would have been a nightmare. Now there’s more snow there than in Toronto! But it is still slightly warmer than here.
My commiserations to those here from the eastern US and Britain and France in your battles with the unusual cold and snow. But cheers for the added confusion to the Warmists! Irritable Climate Syndrome – LOL!

December 26, 2010 4:06 pm

Yikes – problems with HTML code. I just don’t do it often enough to keep in practice. My apologies for the confusing fonts!
[Fixed as you intended? 8<) Robt]

Iggy Slanter
December 26, 2010 4:29 pm

Re: NYT article. The extent to which warmalistas will go to in their convoluted apologias is simply breathtaking. The earth could be frozen solid and they will still chant that it is because the planet has a fever.

December 26, 2010 4:50 pm

We’ll stand by for the inevitable stories blaming this on global warming climate change climate disruption.
Glad to oblige but I am sure that you would prefer a story that snow in your back yard proves an ice age is coming.
Any thoughts on why we are seeing crazy altercations between record snow and heat waves. Is it just a statistical fluke? How many years of this will need to go on before we conclude that something is affecting the weather?

David L
December 26, 2010 5:01 pm

More evidence of Global Warming….obviously….and much much worse than we thought!

Nolo Contendere
December 26, 2010 5:34 pm

I’m assuming Al Gore passed through Atlanta on his way to the Northeast is the most logical explanation.

Theo Goodwin
December 26, 2010 5:39 pm

Just in case someone is wondering, it is not all that unusual to get a little snow in Atlanta, a half inch or so, but it is very unusual on Christmas. Weather is usually balmy through December with occasional cold snaps. But January and February can be cold. Most snow showers occur in January or February.
[Over the past 20+ years since 1988, most winters have no snow at – it falling as noted above in late January/early February – and when it has snowed, very rarely does the snow stay (unmelted) for more than 1-1/2 days. Robt]

December 26, 2010 5:43 pm

There is some weird editorial in NYT that states that global warming means more cooling. Someone please find and post the link (maybe a separate post?).
[Many/most other readers would appreciate your effort if you would make that effort yourself, but thank you for the heads up. Robt]

December 26, 2010 5:50 pm

Mighty hard for Tom & Tom not to look out the window.
AGW skates on the thinnest of ice.
With winters like this, who needs Global Warming causes Global Cooling, and what do you want to bet that Hansen will fabrikadabra adjust another Warmist Ever?

December 26, 2010 5:58 pm
Paul R
December 26, 2010 6:28 pm

Chris says:
December 26, 2010 at 5:43 pm
There is some weird editorial in NYT that states that global warming means more cooling. Someone please find and post the link (maybe a separate post?).
I think this travesty might be what you were looking for. These op-eds are intended as comfort food for warmanista’s, they’re getting really fatty though.

Jimmy Haigh
December 26, 2010 6:50 pm

LazyTeenager says:
December 26, 2010 at 4:50 pm
So are you saying that anthropogenic CO2 is now causing wide swings between global warming and global cooling? Can you point out where this was predicted in the peer reviewed CAGW literature?

December 26, 2010 6:59 pm

The usual rule in Georgia is, if it’s cold enough to snow, it’s too dry. If it’s wet enough to snow, it’s too warm. I was 21 the *second* time I saw snow fall in daylight and not melt when it hit the ground.
Old farts will of course remember the storms of 1973 and 1982. 🙂

Mike McMillan
December 26, 2010 7:35 pm

A glorious White Christmas up here in Illinois. Just like the ones we had when I was a kid.
It’s climate change, all right. It’s changing back to the climate we had 5o years ago.

December 26, 2010 8:35 pm

Lazy Teenager says “How many years of this has to go on before we realize something is affecting the weather” Yes, It is called MOTHER NATURE!!

December 26, 2010 8:37 pm

Sorry Rob should be “Yes She is called MOTHER NATURE”

December 26, 2010 9:10 pm

Mike McMillan says:
December 26, 2010 at 7:35 pm
It’s climate change, all right. It’s changing back to the climate we had 5o years ago.

Or 100, 200, 400, 800 years ago, etc.
There is an El Nino event embedded in tree rings of the PNW around the middle of the 11th Century. 1998 El Nino was a +5, this thing was a +7 by comparison. There are also dry/cold years embedded in the same tree rings correlating with modern La Nina examples which register -4 to -5, and the really bad ones from hundreds of years ago bottom out at -6 to -7.

December 27, 2010 6:09 am

funny items at norwegian weather site.
global warming treatens the norwegian alpin resorts,
directly next to it; Ski resortst closed due to extreme COLD.. (-33C)
Futhermore Coldest december in 110 Years in norway (after coldest november in 110 years) also coldest xmas day
record cold in germany, netherlands and denmark (top 3 coldest december)
and second white Xmas in a row in The Netherlands (neverhappend before)
BUt milder weather is forcasted.. (for now)

December 27, 2010 7:14 am

LazyTeenager says:
December 26, 2010 at 4:50 pm
…Any thoughts on why we are seeing crazy altercations between record snow and heat waves. Is it just a statistical fluke? How many years of this will need to go on before we conclude that something is affecting the weather?

Please define “crazy”. If you are so certain that today’s weather is so unusual compared to previous years/decades/centuries, I would like to see your objective proof that this is so before proceeding with the rest of what you say. In the absence of such proof, I will assume you are simply yelling at clouds.

Dell from Michigan
December 27, 2010 8:04 am

Let me get this right? If the recent record cold temps and snowfall are supposedly caused by Global warming and not another possible little Ice age, then how do we know when global warming is over?

December 27, 2010 8:44 am

spangled drongo says:
December 26, 2010 at 2:42 pm
Thanks Anthony,
Hope the recorders are taking note:

Familiarize yourself with Anthony’s temp-station survey. The simplest explanation is that it’s a record of UHI effects at airports.

December 27, 2010 9:06 am

If folks will allow me, I am reminded of the book of Exodus:
[snip – please read the blog Policy under the About WUWT tab at the top of the page ~jove, mod]
Christmas & New Year greetings

Ed MacAulay
December 27, 2010 11:02 am

spangled drongo says: December 26, 2010 at 2:42 pm
Hope the recorders are taking note:
Please note the date of that report, not very relevant for 2010!

P Gosselin
December 27, 2010 12:40 pm

The irony is welcome. And a similar thing is happening at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research here in Germany, Their weather station is recording record snow cover this month. Seems surreal that some are declaring 2010 the warmest on record.

December 27, 2010 8:46 pm

Wow, they had anthropogenic global warming in Atlanta in 1882, too? Who knew!

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