Next week, winter officially begins. The winter solstice, the time of year when the Sun reaches its southernmost extreme in the sky, will happen on Tuesday, December 21, at 6:38 p.m. EST.
Though the solstice is considered the astronomical start of winter, many areas have already begun to see some wintry weather, including heavy snow near the Great Lakes. By a more traditional reckoning, the December solstice doesn’t mark the start of winter, but “midwinter.” Ever since the summer solstice in June — the official start to summer, or “midsummer,” depending on which idea you adhere to — the days have been getting ever so slightly shorter each day. This time of year, though quite dark, marks the return of the light. Starting around the winter solstice, the days will begin to grow gradually longer once again. This is why, at this dark and cold time of year, so many holiday traditions celebrate warmth and light.
So, what does the coming winter have in store? Will your area see snow this Christmas? What about the rest of the season? Here’s what the Farmers’ Almanac predicts:
Most regions of the U.S. shouldn’t expect a white Christmas this year; only the Rocky Mountains are forecast to receive snow over the holidays. In all other areas, the weather should be fair, but cold, over Christmas, with rain threatening South Central states and unsettled conditions over the West Coast.
In Canada, look for snow in the Maritimes, prairies, and Canadian Rockies. Elsewhere, freezing rain will prevail.
As we turn the page on a New Year, Old Man Winter will exhibit a “split personality” throughout North America. Over the coming months, the East Coast, from the Canadian Maritimes down to Florida and as far west as the lower Ohio River and Mississippi River Valley, is expected to experience colder-than-normal winter temperatures.
Meanwhile, for the western states and provinces, milder-than-normal winter temperatures are expected, from the Pacific Coast inland as far as the Rockies and the western Great Plains. Near the center of the continent, in the American Midwest, Saskatchewan, and parts of Alberta and Manitoba, look for near-normal winter temperatures, with average amounts of cold and snow.
All things considered, when comparisons to last year are made, we believe that for most, it will turn out to be a “kinder and gentler” winter overall.
To see more detailed predictions for your region, be sure to check out the Farmers’ Almanac long-range forecast.