White Christmas? Meteorologists predict the odds across various Czech locales

A look at figures for the past 20 years show that snow on Dec. 24 or 25 only has a better than average chance in one city.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 03.12.2021 12:43:00 (updated on 03.12.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

Will there be a white Christmas in the Czech Republic this year? It's too early to forecast, but the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ) has offered some statistics. The odds vary from 90 percent to 15 percent, depending on where you live.

“One of the most common questions meteorologists receive during December is ‘Will Christmas be in the snow or mud?’” ČHMÚ said on Facebook.

“We can't predict the weather for Dec. 24 yet, so at least let's try to look at the snow at Christmas from the point of view of statistics,” they said, posting a color-coded map based on the actual outcomes of the past 20 years. On the map, dark red shows the least chance of snow, while violet shows the most chance.

“White Christmas” is defined as snow measuring at least 1 centimeter at 7 am on either Dec. 24 or Dec. 25. Czechs celebrate Christmas in the afternoon and evening of Dec. 24.

Odds of a white Christmas are much higher in the mountains. At 1,000 meters or more above sea level, the probability of white Christmas usually exceeds 80 percent, especially on the ridges of the northern border mountains it is as high as 90 percent. From 600 to 800 meters above sea level, the odds drop to between 40 and 60 percent.

As far as cities go, Liberec is most likely to have a blanket of snow, with odds at 50 to 60 percent. It is the only Czech city that has favorable odds. Karlovy Vary and Jihlava are next at 35 percent, while Zlín is at 30 to 40 percent.

Snowy rooftops in Prague. (photo: Raymond Johnston)
Snowy rooftops in Prague. (photo: Raymond Johnston)

Prague is near the bottom of the list at 15 to 20 percent. Brno is just a bit better at 15 to 25 percent. The least chances of a holiday winter wonderland are at Pardubice, Hradec Králové, and Plzeň, all at 15 percent.

The new map replaces one from a few years ago that only looked at 10 years of statistics and results for just Dec. 24. ČHMÚ’s meteorologists claim this version is more accurate.

The ČHMÚ’s long-term outlook published at the end of November said it could cool down during the Christmas week after the relatively warmer stretch. The outlook is based on statistics since 1912.

Snow an a statue near Old Town Square. (photo: Raymond Johnston)
Snow an a statue near Old Town Square. (photo: Raymond Johnston)

“The week from Dec. 13 to 19 is relatively warm, with an average of the lowest night temperatures around -3° C and an average of the highest daily temperatures around +3° C. It will cool down in the Christmas week,” ČHMÚ said. In terms of precipitation, they expect the period from Nov. 29 to Dec. 26 to be average to slightly above average.

A truly white Christmas snow cover of at least 50 cm was last seen at Prague’s Klementinum, the city’s main weather station, in 2001 and 2010. Going back further, significant Christmas snow was also seen in 1996 and 1981. In 1969 there was over 70 cm of snow.

The December 1969 snow in Prague can be seen in a silent black-and-white video in the online archives of newsreel company British Pathé.

For those who trust folklore more than science, there are Czech weather sayings. One is “St. Martin on ice, Christmas on mud.” St. Martin’s Day on Nov. 11 this year was not particularly cold or icy, so that would not bode well for a white Christmas. The saying for Nov. 25, though, is “Catherine in the mud, Christmas on ice; Catherine on ice, Christmas on mud.” Nov. 25 this year was cold and wet, but not icy.

Odds of a white Christmas

  • 1.Liberec: 50 to 60 percent
  • 2.Karlovy Vary: around 35 percent
  • 3.Jihlava: around 35 percent
  • 4.Zlín: 30 to 40 percent
  • 5.Ostrava : 25 to 30 percent
  • 6.Ústí nad Labem: 20 to 30 percent
  • 7.Olomouc: 20 to 25 percent
  • 8.Brno: 15 to 25 percent
  • 9.České Budějovice: 15 to 20 percent
  • 10.Praha: 15 to 20 percent
  • 11.Pardubice: around 15 percent
  • 12.Hradec Králové: around 15 percent
  • 13.Plzeň: around 15 percent
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