How far do you have to travel for a white Christmas?

Snow covering trees (File photo) (Pixlr)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – We’re on track for the coldest Christmas in decades across the entire Southeast, but despite the cold, snow is not in the forecast.

The cold air will simply too dry to produce any precipitation, let alone snow.

But the chilly air may have you longing for a more festive Christmas weekend — a white Christmas.

As is the case almost every year, you will once again have to travel north to get that snow on the ground Christmas morning.

But how far do you have to travel?

Definition of a white Christmas

You may not know this, but the National Weather Service does have an official definition for a white Christmas.

To have a white Christmas, at least 1 inch of snow must be on the ground Christmas morning.

White Christmas definition

This means just a dusting of snow, or snow that has partially melted from a previous storm, does not count.

This increases the bar for a white Christmas — and means you’ll have to drive a bit farther.

Historical white Christmas

A good deal of the Rocky Mountain states, the Upper Midwest and northern New England normally have a decent shot of a white Christmas each year.

Average chance of a white Christmas across the U.S.

Once you get into the Southeast, the probabilities drop quickly.

As we are just beginning the winter season, it is hard for cold air to push into the Southeast and convert rain showers into snow showers.

But this year, the cold air will be firmly entrenched across much of the eastern U.S.

Best places for a white Christmas

Normally, the best chance within driving distance would be the mountains of North Carolina.

The higher terrain allows rain to change to snow, often resulting in snow in cities like Asheville, North Carolina.

But this year, the snow showers will be minimal as the cold front sweeps through the region. In fact, the only snow in the mountains of North Carolina may be on the very top of the highest mountains.

So let’s go farther north.

On Thursday night, the arctic cold front will likely produce accumulating snow in the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee.

Snowfall totals in parts of the Southeast through Christmas

This is the corridor between Nashville and Knoxville.

Current forecasts are for 1 to 3 inches of snow to accumulate in this area Thursday night into early Friday.

With the very cold temperatures in this area Friday and Saturday, much of that snow will likely stick around for Christmas morning.

Slightly higher amounts are possible near the Kentucky border, but this portion of Tennessee looks like the best chance for a white Christmas.

Other areas that have a decent chance of a white Christmas that is a bit further away are the mountains of eastern West Virginia and western Virginia and portions of central Kentucky.

So despite the chill in the air, you will once again have to head northward for the picturesque white Christmas.