Barring the rare patches of stubborn snow clinging to pockets of shade, Twin Cities residents dreaming of a white Christmas are out of luck this year.
But snow lovers, don’t despair. A winter storm is on its way to Minnesota, although a day too late for the holiday.
“It’s kind of too bad,” said Jay Blattie while taking a Christmas Eve stroll. “Who doesn’t want snow for Christmas?”
Despite the brown ground, it seems Mother Nature usually delivers.
More than 70 percent of the past 118 Christmas Days in the Twin Cities saw at least some snow accumulation. This year marks the fourth Christmas this decade sans snow — 2011, 2014 and 2015 also brought brown Christmases, according to the National Weather Service.
So far this winter, Minneapolis has received just 7.6 inches of snowfall, far below the 19.3 inches that’s normal. That’s due, in part, to a warm stretch this month and winter storm systems that have tracked to the south of the Twin Cities, said Caleb Grunzke, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
Though it’s too early to predict how much snow Wednesday’s storm may deliver, Grunzke said snowflakes may quickly transition into rain, which could create icy conditions if temperatures drop below freezing. The high for Wednesday is expected to reach 33 degrees.
Pat Hall, 75, said Monday that she wishes there had been a little more snow this holiday season, at least enough to adorn the roof of her Victorian home in Minneapolis. The photos she took of it decorated in Christmas lights might have looked more festive if set against a backdrop of white.
“But I suppose it doesn’t make that much of a difference in the end,” Hall said. “It’s just a lot easier to get around without the snow.”
For 90-year-old Dick Meixner, dry sidewalks made for a trouble-free walk into church for Christmas Eve services at Community United Methodist in Columbia Heights.
“Oh, I’d much rather have snow to look at even though I appreciate not having to walk in it,” he said. “But it does seem to add to the Christmas spirit.”
Last Dec. 25, only about an inch of snow covered the ground in Minneapolis, according to the Weather Service. The 1980s brought a few snowless Christmases, as did the 1970s. Still, it’s easy to reminisce about past holidays with plenty of snow on the ground, Hall said.
“I know if I was younger I’d be bummed that I couldn’t go sledding,” she said.
On a Monday morning walk around Bde Maka Ska with her golden retriever Gatsby, Allie Larson, 34, took note of the dusting of snow that lined the lake’s shoreline.
“I’m still counting it as a white Christmas,” Larson said. “We’ve got a little bit of [snow] if you look for it, and that’s enough to be grateful for.”
Larson said she welcomes more snow, even if it does arrive after all the holiday presents are unwrapped.
“Winter activities make Minnesota what it is,” Larson said. “And as long as it’s so cold, there might as well be some snow.”
Precipitation levels are expected to be normal over the next few months, according to the Climate Prediction Center. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the precipitation will fall as snow, Grunzke said.
For now, he encourages people to be appreciative of the good traveling weather.
Dana Widman, a Minneapolis photographer, said the absence of snow this season has forced her to get creative. She’s found a few spots around the city with enough white on the ground to serve as a backdrop for her clients.
“Nobody wants a brown Christmas photo,” she said. “Snow just evokes that nostalgia and thoughts of spending holidays with family.”
Widman grew up in northern Minnesota and said there was never a question of whether her Christmas would be white. Now she drives her three children north to her hometown of Crookston to spend the holiday sledding and making snow angels.
“It gets melancholy without that beautiful blanket of snow,” she said. “It’s just how we envision the holidays.”