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It appears Lincoln will have a 'white Christmas' this year
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It appears Lincoln will have a 'white Christmas' this year

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Snow feature 12.23

A wind-whipped pedestrian makes their way out of the snow downtown last week.

It may not be much, but as 2020 has gone, at least Lincoln residents can enjoy a white Christmas.

Only freezing temperatures have followed the 1 inch of snow measured at the Lincoln Airport following Wednesday's storm, which means it technically qualifies as only the 24th white Christmas in the Capital City dating back 73 years.

And Lincoln residents are taking advantage. At Pioneers Park on Christmas Eve, children swooshed down the snowy ramps preceding the rolling hills of the southwest Lincoln park. Tanker Hill in Arnold Heights was marked by snowy footprints and flat paths of crushed snow. 

The idyllic concept of a white Christmas is defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as "1 inch or more of snow on the ground" on Christmas morning. This means snow doesn't have to fall on Dec. 25 or before kids wake up to open presents — as long as there is at least 1 inch of snow cover. 

Based on historical data, forecasters say the chance of a white Christmas in Southeast Nebraska ranges between 25-40%, with the likelihood rising across the northern tier of the state.

That's where more snow fell in Wednesday's storm, with 5 inches falling near Burwell and 4 inches reported near Atkinson.

With Wednesday's gusty winds, measuring the snow was difficult across Nebraska, and drifts certainly left more snow behind in some areas.

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Taylor Nicolaisen, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Omaha, said we're not likely to see any additional snow in eastern Nebraska before next week.

Christmas is shaping up as a nice day, with a high near 42 in Lincoln but with a relatively strong wind.

"Even though it'll be about 40 degrees (on Christmas), the wind chill is keeping the snow around," Nicolaisen said.

Lincoln went from 1984 to 1996 without a white Christmas, but snow cover has been more common on Dec. 25 in the last 23 years, with nine occasions of a white Christmas.

A 1-inch snow depth pales in comparison to 11 inches on the ground on Christmas Day in 2000 and 10 inches in 2009, which remains known for a Christmas blizzard.

The last time Lincoln had snow on the ground on Christmas Day was 2017.

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Memories of favorite Lincoln places

Reach the writer at 402-473-7214 or


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News intern

Sadiyah AIi is a Portland, Oregon native and senior at University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying journalism and political science.

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