National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

 

 

 

Christmas Weather History/Extremes
Grand Island, NE

 

The mention of Christmas often invokes visions of snow cover and cold weather. However, Christmas weather in south central Nebraska and north central Kansas doesn't always ring true to this picture. Just in the past 30 years, Christmas high temperatures in Grand Island have ranged from 11° to 62°! The tables below feature a wealth of Christmas Day weather and climate information focused specifically on Grand Island, Nebraska, where December weather records date back to 1895.

Temperatures: According to the entire period of record, the warmest Christmas on record was 62° on three occasions (1999,1963,1922) and the coldest low temperature was -16° in both 1983 and 1924. Only 21 of 123 Christmas Days on record (17%) have featured high temperatures of 50° or warmer, but three of these have just occurred during the last decade (including last year in 2020). On the opposite side of the temperature spectrum, Christmas 1983 really stands out on the bitterly cold side of things, with a high temperature of only 7° and a bone-chilling low of -16°. Despite how cold Christmas 1983 was, that day actually broke an unprecedented streak of seven consecutive days of BELOW ZERO HIGHS that lasted from Dec. 18-24, 1983!

Precipitation/Snowfall: In terms of active, memorable Christmas weather, there have been a few notable ones just in the past 12 years. We are now 12 years removed from the major Christmas blizzard of 2009! This memorable storm dumped 7.8" of wind-whipped snow on Grand Island during the calendar day, and 9.1" of storm-total snow between the 24th-26th. CLICK HERE TO SEE A RECAP OF THE 2009 CHRISTMAS BLIZZARD. Five years ago in 2016, Christmas featured extremely active weather, but it had nothing to do with snow: Instead, an unusually mild and moist airmass fueled a line of strong thunderstorms (yes, thunderstorms!) during the afternoon hours. Then, just a few hours later during the evening, an unusually strong and long-lasting high wind event occurred, featuring at least 2-3 hours of sustained westerly winds frequently 30-50 MPH and a peak gust of 75 MPH! These winds caused considerable, mainly minor damage not only within Grand Island but also across much of South Central Nebraska. CLICK HERE FOR A RECAP OF THE "CRAZY" CHRISTMAS 2016 WEATHER


** Christmas 2020 Weather Recap:  Featuring seasonably-warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine, this was arguably the "nicest" Christmas since 2011. The afternoon high temperature reached 50º (boosted by fairly light westerly breezes), and the chilly morning low of 17º actually occurred well-before sunrise. Although the official morning snow depth was a Trace (most of which lingered from a quick-hitting blizzard two days prior on the 23rd), it was not deep enough to meet the 1+" criteria needed to qualify as a "White Christmas". **


 

White Christmas Probability: The map below, from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), depicts the probability of having a "White Christmas" (defined as 1" or more of morning snow depth) based on normals from 1981-2010. As depicted, most of south central Nebraska and far north central Kansas carries between a 25-40% chance of having a white Christmas. Specifically in Grand Island, there have been 9 white Christmases in the past 30 years (30% of the time). The last White Christmas was four years ago in 2017, as 4" of snow was still on the ground (which had fallen on the 23rd-24th).

What is the Historical Probability of a White Christmas?
(click image for larger version)
Based on the 30-year average from 1981-2010        (NOT this year's forecast!)

 
Grand Island Max Temperature Min Temperature Precipitation
30-Year Normals (1981-2010) 35 15 0.02
10-Year Averages (2011-2020) 37.0 18.0 0.06

 

 

Grand Island NE Christmas Extremes (Since 1895) 
Warmest Christmas On Record (High Temp) 62° in 1999,1963,1922
Coldest Christmas On Record (High Temp) 7° in 1983
Coldest Low Temperature -16° in 1983,1924
Warmest Low Temperature 34° in 1959
Most Liquid Equivalent Precipitation On Record 0.51" in 2009
Snowiest Christmas Day On Record  7.8" (2009)
 

 

Top 5 Warmest Highs Top 5 Coldest Lows Top 5 Wettest Top 5 Snowfall Top 5 
6 AM Snow Depth
62° (1999,1963,1922) -16° (1983,1924) 0.51" (2009) 7.8" (2009) 20" (1968)
60° (1912) -8° (1962,1921) 0.44" (2016) 3.0" (1941) 15" (1983)
58° (1950) -4° (1952,1948) 0.20" (1941) 2.0" (1913) 12" (1973, 1945)
56° (1960,1959) -3° (1935) 0.17" (2015) 1.5" (2000) 10" (1952)
55° (1931) -2° (1980) 0.10" (2000) 1.4" (2007) 8" (2009)
 

 

The Last Time _____ Happened On Christmas?
Last 60+ degree day: 62° in 1999
Last 50+ degree day: 50° in 2020
Last time the high temp was 20° or colder: 12° in 2017
Last time the high temp was 10° or colder:  7° in 1983
Last time the low temp was 0° or colder:   -1° in 1996
Last time the low temp was 30° or warmer: 31° in 1989
Last time measurable precipitation fell (0.01 inch or more): 0.03" in 2017
Last time measurable snow fell (0.1 inch or more): 0.9" in 2017
Last time the 6 AM snow depth was at least 1 inch:  4" in 2017

 
 In the past 30 years...

 - Since 1991, high temperatures on Christmas have ranged from 11° (1996) to 62° (1999)
 - Since 1991, low temperatures on Christmas have ranged from -1° (1996) to 28° (2014)
 - Since 1991, the high temp on Christmas has reached 50° or higher 7 times (2020, 2016, 2011, 2005, 2004,1999,1994)
 - Since 1991, the low temperature on Christmas has dropped below 0° only ONCE (1996)
 - Since 1991, measurable precipitation (0.01" or higher) has fallen seven times on Christmas (led by 0.51" in 2009)
 - Since 1991, measurable snow (0.1" or higher) has fallen six times on Christmas (led by 7.8" in 2009)
 - Since 1991, morning snow depth (at 6 AM) has been 1" or more 9 times (led by 8" in 2009)



Grand Island, Nebraska - Past 10 Years Summary
Christmas (2011-2020)

Date Max Temperature Min Temperature Precipitation
(Inches)
Snowfall
(Inches)
Snow
Depth
(6AM)
Weather Conditions
12/25/2011 50 25 0.00 0.0 0 sunny, light wind 
12/25/2012 14 2 0.00 0.0 3 partly cloudy, cold
12/25/2013 44 21 0.00 0.0 0 sunny, breezy
12/25/2014 45 28 0.00 0.0 0 sunny, light wind
12/25/2015 31 13 0.17 0.6 1 evening thunderstorm
with graupel!
12/25/2016 53 26 0.44 0.0 0 afternoon thunderstorms...evening high winds up to 75 MPH!!
12/25/2017 12 2 0.03 0.9 4 coldest average Christmas temp since 1996
12/25/2018 39 19 0.00 0.0 0 dense fog in AM and evening
12/25/2019 32 27 Trace 0.0 0 dense fog AM, low clouds all day
12/25/2020 50 17 0.00 0.0 T seasonably-mild and sunny
10-Year Averages 37.0 18.0 0.06  0.1    

 

 

Past 10-Years Christmas Day Summary: Grand Island, Nebraska (2011-2020)
 
Warmest high temperature: 53° in 2016
Coldest high temperature:   12° in 2017  (5th-coldest on record!)
 
Coldest low temperature:     2° in 2017, 2012
Warmest low temperature: 28° in 2014
 
Highest Precipitation:   0.44" in 2016 (associated with rain/thunderstorms!)
Highest Snowfall:           0.9" in 2017 


 For more climate related information, check out the following websites:

 

 


This page was composed by the staff at the National Weather Service in Hastings, Nebraska.


Last Finalized For 2021 on 01/12/21