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A brief history of White Christmases in the Old Pueblo

Posted at 4:32 PM, Dec 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-19 18:35:58-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — Christmas is near and it has many folks dreaming of a white Christmas! The fact is, we live in the Sonoran Desert and the chances of a white Christmas are slim and none. However, it can happen!

In Tucson, snow has fallen on Christmas Day. The National Weather Service, in Tucson, has records that indicate this has happened four times since the late 1800s. Our most recent white Christmas occurred in 1987. Here’s a look at the years with the amounts of snow…

  • 1987: 2.6”
  • 1974: Trace
  • 1916: 4.0” (Our snowiest Christmas ever in Tucson!)
  • 1911: 0.5”

So, a white Christmas is quite the rare event in the Old Pueblo. When we do see snow on Christmas, it’s truly a bit of a Christmas miracle! It’s been over 30 years since the last snowfall on Christmas Day and it doesn’t look like our chances are very good this year, either.

A Pacific storm system will bring some moisture to southeastern Arizona on Christmas Eve. However, snow levels are expected to be quite high with this particular system and we will only see some rain showers for Christmas Eve. Early Christmas morning, the storm will clear Tucson and leave behind partly cloudy skies for Christmas Day. Rain totals are expected to be pretty low as the storm passes.

Speaking of rain in Tucson, it’s interesting to note that precipitation has fallen on Christmas Day on 22 occasions. Our wettest Christmas Day was when 0.71” fell in 1944. Just last year, we received 0.20” of rain on Christmas Day. Prior to last year, we received 0.16” in 2014 which ended a 19-year streak of Christmas Days with no rain or snow!

If you’re looking for a white Christmas, it looks like the White Mountains will get some fresh snow and there might be some snow on the top of Mount Lemmon. Otherwise, we’ll just have to keep dreaming of a white Christmas and wishing for it to happen next year.