Tuesday, December 21, 2004

WIS--Columbia, SC: South Carolina has chance of white Christmas

Dec. 21, 2004 - Temperatures dipped into the teens in places across South Carolina on the morning on Tuesday, December 21st, the official first day of winter, before they rose into the 50s.

"The big question," says Storm Team Chief Meteorologist Ken Aucoin, "is 'will we see snow on Christmas Eve or Christmas day?'"

Tom Ardrey with the National Weather Service in Columbia says it should warm up slightly statewide this week, but there could be chance for a white Christmas. The National Weather Service gives a 20 percent to 30 percent chance for snow Christmas Eve into the morning of December 25th, mostly south and east of the area from Aiken to Columbia to Chesterfield.

Ken says computer models suggest a low pressure system developing along a frontal boundary on Friday in the Gulf of Mexico could spread snow into southern Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

That night, Christmas Eve, Ken says the low will move over Florida, potentially bringing temperatures low enough for snow to South Carolina from the Midlands to the coast late Friday night and early Saturday morning. It's too early to tell exactly how much snow could fall, but forecasters do not expect big totals.

"Any deviation from that track would cause us to get cold rain or no precipitation at all," Ken says if the low heads too far north the Palmetto State would be too warm for snow and would get only rain. If it stays too far south South Carolina would be too dry for any precipitation. By Saturday afternoon the low will have accelerated out to sea.

Forecasters are more certain that this will be a cold Christmas. Highs will be in the 30s for most of the state, with lows falling into the teens and lower 20s.

South Carolina's last true white Christmas was in 1989 when snow as much as a foot of snow fell along parts of Myrtle Beach and several inches fell in Charleston and Beaufort. The snow reached as far as a line from Hampton to Manning to Florence.

In the meantime Ken says highs on a sunny Tuesday will reach into the mid 50s. He says South Carolina should remain dry until clouds that form over the state Wednesday open up after dark Wednesday night and into Thursday.

Some in the Palmetto State saw a few flakes Sunday night, but Monday dried out.

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