National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

The article below discusses the Christmas climate statistics for the Indianapolis Area. A graphic showing information for the Indianapolis, Lafayette, and Bloomington areas is available here. More Christmas Climatology details for Indy are also available.

Are You Dreaming Of A White Christmas?

If you are dreaming of a White Christmas for this year, then read on. Here is some historical information on the occurrence of a White Christmas in Indianapolis.

There are several ways to define a White Christmas. For the purposes of our historical look back, we’ll include a White Christmas as any day that has either at least a trace of snow on the ground, or experiences at least a trace of snow falling that day. In more general terms, we’ll define a White Christmas as any Christmas day that Indianapolis sees snow.

So what is the chance of at least a trace of snow falling at Indianapolis on Christmas day? Well, snowfall records on Christmas day have been kept in the Indianapolis area since 1871. And in that 146 year period of record, a trace of snow (or more) has fallen 66 times. This could be equated to a 45% chance of at least a trace of snow falling on Christmas Day.

Our other possibility for a White Christmas would be if there was at least a trace of snow already on the ground. This could be old snow from a week ago, or just the day before. Snow depth records don’t go quite as far back, and these were started in 1898. And in that 119 year span, there has been at least a trace of snow on the ground on Christmas Day a total of 58 times. This could be equated to a 49% chance of at least a trace of snow on the ground on Christmas Day.

With both of our possibilities for a White Christmas explored, what then is our final chance? What would our probability be of having either a Trace or more of snow falling, or a Trace or more already on the ground? Since 1871, this has happened in a total of 84 times, where either the snow has fallen or already been on the ground. This gives us an overall probability of 58%, meaning that 6 out of every 10 years, on average, will see either some snow falling or some snow already on the ground for Christmas Day.  The last Christmas that saw snow on the ground in Indianapolis was in 2012.  The last time that snow fell on Christmas Day occurred in 2013 when a trace fell. 

So if a White Christmas is your dream, then you’ll probably take heart in these numbers. Much more often than not, there will be at least a few flakes around to greet us come Christmas Day!

 

Here are a few snow extremes from Christmas Day:

Greatest Snowfall on Christmas Day

Greatest Snow Depth on Christmas Day

5.9” in 1909

9” in 2004

4.4” in 1926

7” in 2002

3.3” in 1890

7” in 1909

2.6” in 2005

6” in 1995

2.4” in 1935

6” in 1935

 

 

And a few temperature and precipitation extremes as well:

Warmest Max Temp

Coldest Max Temp

Warmest Min Temp

Coldest Min Temp

Most Precipitation

64 in 1893

-4 in 1983

55 in 1877

-15 in 1983

1.36 in 2005

63 in 1982

7 in 1985

50 in 1889

-5 in 2000, 1878

1.14 in 1957

63 in 1889

10 in 1924

45 in 1982

-4 in 1935, 1924

0.98 in 1982

59 in 1877

13 in 1884

44 in 1888

-3 in 2004, 1980

0.72 in 2006

58 in 1973,1932,1891

14 in 1980, 1902

42 in 1940, 1936, 1895, 1891

-2 in 1872

0.61 in 1926

 

The historical probability of a white Christmas across the country is shown in the map below: