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A few flakes could fly Christmas Day

December 24, 2012
By Katie Kuba - Senior Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

Are you dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones you used to know?

Whether or not flakes will be flying when you wake up Tuesday depends on the elevation at which you sleep, according to National Weather service experts.

Tim Axford, a meteorologist with the NWS in Charleston, said two systems will be moving into the area within the next two days, and while one will bring rain, the second could carry with it minimal snow.

The first of the two, he said, "is a little weak system that's going to begin in the southern part of the state (Sunday), but move into (central West Virginia) on Christmas Eve, starting possibly with ice pellets, but then turning into rain as the temperature rises."

Today's temperatures will range from the mid- to upper 30s in mountainous regions, such as Snowshoe Mountain Resort in Pocahontas County, to the low to mid-40s in valley areas, he said.

Axford said rain may continue to fall for most of this evening, but kids hoping to catch a glance of Santa - or churchgoers sleepily returning from midnight mass - may spot a snowflake or two as Christmas Eve fades into Christmas morning.

"Colder air is coming in following the rain, so there could be some snowflakes and ice pellets early in the day Tuesday," Axford said Sunday. "People staying up really late Christmas night even might see some snow, but the likelihood of that is greater in the north and in the east."

Whether or not remnants of Friday's snowstorm will keep the ground coated white through Christmas Day is, again, dependent on sun exposure and elevation.

"There's going to be a considerable amount of melting going on in the next day or two," Axford said, "but areas with low south sun angles, as well as shaded areas and sheltered mountain valleys, will take longer for the sun to melt."

When central West Virginia residents rise Tuesday, temperatures will be in the upper 20s, but are expected to top out in the mid- to upper-30s, according to the NWS.

That's certainly nowhere near the lowest - or highest - temperatures have been on Christmas day in the Mountain State.

According to a press release from the NWS, the balmiest temperature in the state occurred in 1982 in Huntington and Charleston, when each registered 76 degrees. Interestingly, the coldest Christmas Day temperature followed on the heels of that record high, happening in 1983, when the temperature in Snowshoe measured 26 degrees below zero. The NWS release states that the 1983 plummet "shattered" the previous record low, which was recorded at 14 degrees below zero in 1935 in Reedsville (Preston County).

Meanwhile, the deepest Christmas Day snowfall ever documented in the state was 27 inches in 1963 at Spruce Knob. That record was an exception to the rule; usually, West Virginians don't wake up to snow Christmas morning, the NWS release says, noting that it's "uncommon" for residents to see snow even an inch deep on Dec. 25.

"At elevations less than 2,000 feet above sea level, past Christmas mornings have been white only about 20 percent of the time," the release states. "Weather records tell us that for every 10 Christmas mornings, about two had snow on the ground at dawn."

Contact Katie Kuba by email at



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