fb-pixelBoston could see a white Christmas. Yes, really! - The Boston Globe Skip to main content

Boston could see a white Christmas. Yes, really!

A cardinal is perched in a snow-covered bush in a Pembroke yard. John Tlumacki/Globe StaffJohn Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Pull the cocoa out of your cabinets and queue up “Love Actually,” because the weather could soon bring some much-needed holiday cheer to Boston. This weekend, the city could be covered in a blanket of white just in time for the holidays.

On Friday morning, Christmas Eve, an area of low atmospheric pressure will move down through New England and could bring some light snow to the region. It might actually stick, too, accumulating up to an inch. It’s less clear what the weather will look like on Christmas Day, but more snow is possible, according to the Globe’s weather correspondent, Dave Epstein. That means a white Christmas could be in store for the city.


To be clear, Boston is unlikely to meet the official criteria for a white Christmas. By the National Weather Service’s qualifications, there must be an inch of snow on the ground when observations are taken at 7 a.m. By those standards, even though Boston saw a thick coat of snow on Christmas 2017, the city hasn’t seen a white Christmas since 2009, and probably won’t this year, either, though it’s possible.

But come on, shouldn’t any Dec. 25 when there’s snow on the ground count? After all, this winter — and this year — have been far milder than average for the city, so any snow seems worth celebrating. Don’t tell the Weather Service, but I say ignore the technical qualifications, call it a white Christmas if it snows at all, and enjoy the flakes.

Thanks to the climate crisis, snowy days are becoming a rarer occurrence in New England. One 2019 study found that in the northern United States and Canada, the number of frost days — or days when minimum temperatures are below freezing — declined by an average of 1.1 days per decade over the past century. And analyses show that chances of a white Christmas in the region, and across most of the country, have declined rapidly over the past several decades.


In the future, Boston’s chances of seeing snowy Christmases will likely get even slimmer. Though precipitation is expected to increase, winters are expected to get warmer, meaning the city will see more rain than snow. Our best shot to preserve white Christmases in the future is to quickly curb greenhouse gas emissions. Something to keep in mind as you sip your cocoa.

Dharna Noor can be reached at dharna.noor@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @dharnanoor.