If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, you’d better head for Oklahoma. Better yet, download the Bing Crosby-Danny Kaye classic film.
It’s been nearly 36 years since the last time it snowed in Miami. Make that the only time in recorded history: Jan. 19, 1977. Not, as you can tell by your calendar, on Christmas.
In fact, the coldest Christmas day in the past decade came in 2003, according to the National Weather Service, when the low slipped to sweater weather (56) before edging to the day’s balmy high of 73.
So what are the odds we’ll ever see a white Noel?
"Less than 1 percent," predicted Barry Baxter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami.
Two main conditions are necessary for snow: cold air and humidity. South Florida is certainly susceptible to unseasonably cold Arctic blasts in the winter. But "whenever we get the very strong cold fronts," Baxter said, "it pulls out the very dry air, so we usually don’t have the moisture behind these fronts to produce the snow."
Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist with Wunderground.com, crunched the data.
“If we assume that one in 117 years that a specific day in the coldest 100 days of winter will get snow, (i.e., Christmas Day), the odds work out to a White Christmas occurring about once every 12,000 years,’’ he wrote in an email.
And that, he notes was under old climate patterns. “With global warming, the odds of extreme cold events go way down, so maybe we’re talking once every 40,000 years now.’’
This condition could be counter-balanced by the possibility that climate change may cause unusual winter circulations like we saw in the winters of 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, he noted, “when the jet stream weakened and sagged far to the south, allowing cold air to spill out of the Arctic and invade Florida.’’ The resulting odds, he figured: one in 20,000.
The greatest likelihood might come with the next ice age, he suggested, in about 10,000 years or so.
As for Christmas 2012, the local forecast calls for a high around 80 degrees.
Bring the UVB protection; skies will be partly sunny.
Jane Wooldridge contributed to this report.