Wet, not white Christmas likely
Detroit — Forget about a white Christmas. It’s going to be more like a wet Christmas.
And while that spells some relief for travelers who will be hitting the roads or skies before Christmas, it’s a bit of a disappointment for many who feel in a more festive mood when there’s some snow on the ground for the holiday.
Winter officially started Sunday evening, but temperatures on the first few days of the season will be more like fall.
Highs in Metro Detroit will be in the 40s and 50s, giving way to rain by Tuesday and a rain-snow mix by Christmas Eve that will likely result in less than an inch of snow. Farther north, though, Michiganians can expect a bit of snow to cover the ground.
That could make driving a bit sketchy and raise the possibility for flight delays. . More than 3 million Michiganians are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season, according to AAA. The holiday travel period runs Dec. 23 through Jan 4.
By Christmas Day, though, the chance for snow is “pretty much gone,” says Matt Mosteiko, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake Township.
“The main surge of precipitation will be rain. The amount of snow we’re looking at is pretty minimal right now,” he said. “We define a white Christmas as an inch or more of snow on the ground. It doesn’t look like we’ll be making that.”
That’s sad news for Claire Denison of Birmingham.
“I do want a white Christmas,” said Denison, 17, as she prepared to hit the ice rink in Campus Martius Park in Detroit on Sunday. “My spirits will go down a little bit, I’m not going to lie.”
Denison’s cousin, Maria Callaghan, 18, shared the sentiment, but added the family will enjoy the Christmas festivities no matter what.
“With snow, it makes the holiday that much better,” she said. “It adds a little bit of magic.”
Last week, forecasters were tracking a large storm from the west that many worried could have brought some accumulation to the Great Lakes region. But by Sunday, the forecast was changing. The Northeast is still going to get the brunt of the storm, according to AccuWeather. com.
Detroit’s snowfall is below normal for the season with only a trace of snow this month, compared with 15.5 inches for the entire month last year. There were 4 inches of snow in November.
It’s a far cry from last winter when Detroit’s seasonal snowfall set a record with a total of 94.9 inches that doubled the annual average.
Livonia resident Sara Tubbs says she welcomes the lull.
“The only day I like snow is on Christmas,” said Tubbs, who was joined near the skating rink by her family, including children ages 12 and 10. “I’m not going to be heartbroken if we don’t have a white Christmas.”
Mosteiko says despite the slow start this season, weather officials expect the snowfall and precipitation will be normal. The winter outlook calls for temperatures near normal for December and slightly colder than normal for January.
The auto club said the figure of more than 3 million is an increase of nearly 5 percent from the 2.8 million people who traveled last year during the same holiday period. AAA said that’s the highest travel volume for the period since 2006.
Nearly 91 percent of Michigan travelers are expected to go by personal vehicle. That comes as Michigan gas prices are more than 70 cents per gallon lower than the same time last year, averaging about $2.42 per gallon. AAA says that’s the lowest level in more than five years.
AAA added air travel is forecast to grow 1.6 percent from 2013.
Detroit Metro Airport in Romulus recommends domestic travelers arrive at least an hour and a half before flight departure times. They recommend a couple of hours in advance for international flights.
“Typically, it’s a little bit busier than other times of the year,” said Brian Lassaline, an airport spokesman. “Give extra time when coming out and everything should be great.”
Associated Press contributed.