Will Chicago have a White Christmas this year?

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Snow Sunday in Chicago. Credit: Natasha J Photography

Snow Sunday in Chicago. Credit: Natasha J Photography

CHICAGO -- You may be dreaming of glistening treetops and the sound of sleigh bells in the snow, but despite what you see out your window, a White Christmas isn’t guaranteed around Chicago.

Meteorologists define a White Christmas as having at least one inch of snow on the ground Christmas morning. It doesn’t have to be snowing on the holiday.

O’Hare Airport has received nearly 18 inches of snow in December, and more than 15 inches has fallen at Midway. Several inches of snow still blanket the region, but it’s not of uniform depth and warming temperatures this week will cause snowmelt in the days ahead.

National Weather Service meteorologist Amy Seeley says it’s difficult to gauge how quickly the snow will melt, but points to areas most likely to show bare ground on the morning of the 25th.

“Obviously, areas south of I-80 (who haven't had as much snow), have a better chance of not seeing a White Christmas. Snow depth in those areas are maybe around 3 inches, and I think those could be melted," she said.

Seeley says areas north of I-80, including downtown Chicago, have received heavier snowfall in the last few weeks, giving these locations a better chance of keeping snow on the ground during the forecasted warm up and until the holiday.

“The area really in question is north of I-80, and specifically north of I-88. Snow depths in those areas range anywhere from 3-9 inches. While temperatures will be slightly above normal, the real melting may be on Christmas Day, so it could start out white on that day," she said.

Seeley says that neighborhoods that start with a White Christmas may not end with one due to warmer temperatures and forecasted rain. The meteorologist adds any snow still around Sunday likely won’t be Monday.

Hopefully your holiday is still merry and bright, even if your Christmas isn’t white.