A local car dealer is offering a free automobile if it officially snows 4 or more inches on Christmas Day. How likely am I to get a free car?
— Larry Phillips
The odds are certainly in favor of the car dealer. Checking 133 Christmas Day snowfalls dating back to 1884, there would have been just four instances where free cars would have been given away, about 3 percent of the years. The city’s largest Dec. 25 snowfall occurred in 1950 with 5.1 inches, followed by 5.0 inches in 1909, 4.3 inches in 1933 and 4.0 inches in 1951.
In a typical winter, the city records two or three days with at least 4 inches of snow, with eight, the most ever, during the winter of 1951-52. Since 2000-01, the number of days with 4 or more inches of snow has ranged from one in 2002-03 and 2003-04, to five in the winter of 2013-14.