Saturday, December 20, 2014

No help from Dickens this Christmas


The famous "Frost Fairs" on the England's River Thames in the early 1800's. 
This is the winter setting a young Charles Dickens would have witnessed growing up in London. 

7:00 AM 12/20 - Won't it be an ironic twist of climate fate to have had a White Thanksgiving, then end up with a Blue Christmas? As a child, I would often be quite puzzled at why the atmosphere could so easily produce snow on almost every other day in December, except the 25th. Once during my teenage years, snow fell on November 11. Did it snow on 12/25? Nope! Instead, we had fog (in Philadelphia)

FABLED 5THs, JUST NOT 25THs In recent years, the Baltimore area had a string of snow dates with destiny we called the "Fabled December 5ths." From 2002 to 2009, measureable snow fell in that city at least four times right on the 5th of December. But alas, did that same weather pattern produce snowfall just 20 days later? Hardly! 

In fact, 2002 was the most recent observance of a White Christmas in Baltimore, according to official records from the Sterling VA National Weather Service. In fact, their data shows the elusive mantle of white is so rare that in 120 years of record-keeping, it has occurred just 12 times! This paltry underperformance of powder (for some cities) on the most popular date of the year might even drive some Powderhounds to cry HumbugJust once in recent memory along the I-95 corridor was present a Currier & Ives collection of snow by Christmas Day: In 2009, following the 20+ inch rout delivered by the 12/19-20 Blizzard. (Yes, we forecasted that one too ;-)

WHY ALL THE WHITE CHRISTMAS FUSS? Ever wondered whose idea was this, and why it launched a national perception-obsession to go dashing through the snow on a one-horse open sleigh? If so, look no further than an author known as Charles Dickens, and his last-ditch effort to generate some revenue in a downtrodden London market for writers. 

On December 19, 1843 (a scant 171 years ago) he managed to get a little story published you may have heard about, and the rest is... well, you know. Yet digging deeper into the history of the times when he was writing this tale uncovers long hidden clues in, believe it or not... climate records. These lesser-known factors in the environment turned out to be just as influential in Dickens' life as his hard-scrabble years as a child and adult.
  • Just what was weather doing on December 25 in Charles' childhood? 
  • Why did he select that date as the setting for his now world-famous tale?
  • How could Solar activity and climate influences played a role his imagining of holiday "traditions" for which at the time, was not a widely-celebrate holiday? 

For the full story behind this interesting climate connection between Charles and our desire for a White Christmas, take some time to peruse our annual holiday story-telling tradition: "How in the Dickens did Charles save Christmas?"

Looking at the long-range precipitation projections for next week, it is likely that Powderhounds will find themselves humming those lyrics to the King's old-time holiday song: "I'll have a Blue... Christmas,, without you..."  (Youtube video from 1968). The image shown left is not an exaggeration, nor it is mostly snow. That's the 7-day precip totals expected, and most of this moisture will fall as rain over two days, for most of those areas. Which two days? You guessed it. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Like we said, it's enough to make the most diehard snow fans get a Scroogy-looking face.  It might not be a Christmas of white, but hopefully you'll be doin' alright...
..once we can all can get to that powdery prosperity waiting on the other side of the calendar.;-O

Merriness to all, and to all a good night!

Mr. Foot and the Winter Stormcast Team


NeedaSnowday said...

Uhm, I think the lack of snow is my fault... Bought a snowblower and the gremlin is still in the box!

Amy said...

Rain and Gremlins are a bad combination.

Sad to see my hopes dashed for a white Christmas, but as long as we get some sizable snow soon...

NeedaSnowday said...

BBR..... How you holding up? I am just numb ....grrrr