Christmas Won’t be White over Most of Illinois, Illinois State Water Survey

Press Release

For Immediate Release December 19, 2002
Christmas Won’t be White over Most of Illinois
Jim Angel - (217) 333-0729, Fax: (217) 244-0220,
Eva Kingston - (217) 244-7270, Fax: (217) 333-6540,

Photo “Dreams of a white Christmas will have to suffice in many parts of Illinois,” says State Climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey (, a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

As of today, there’s no snow anywhere in Illinois. Chances of having at least an inch on the ground on December 25 are poorest for southern Illinois (10-30 percent), better for central Illinois (30-40 percent), and best for northern Illinois (40-60 percent), using 1971-2000 snow depth data (see figure),” says Angel.

Average winter snowfall in Illinois ranges from 28 to 40 inches in northern Illinois, 20 to 28 inches in central Illinois, and 12 to 20 inches in southern Illinois. The largest average snowfall usually occurs in the Chicago area in fall and early winter as cold air blows over relatively warm waters of Lake Michigan and boosts storm energy.

So far, there has been only 1-10 inches (northern Illinois), 1-8 inches from an early December storm (southern Illinois), and less than an inch (central Illinois). Snowfall this winter has been greatest at Midway Airport at Chicago (10.5 inches) and Mt. Vernon in southern Illinois (10 inches).

The National Weather Service is predicting a chance of precipitation for Illinois on Christmas Eve. Right now, it looks like only northern Illinois may see snow, and the rest of the state will be warm enough that any precipitation will fall as rain.

“To be virtually guaranteed a white Christmas, you’ll need to travel to Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, or upper Michigan. They have snow,” says Angel.

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