A white White House Christmas looks likely as storm bears down

Only 12 times in weather-recording history have winter storms brought a white Christmas to Washington.

Gerald Herbert/AP
Snow is seen falling at the White House in Washington, Dec. 5.

Will Sasha and Malia – and maybe mom Michelle Obama – get to try out that new toboggan on the South Lawn on Christmas Day?

No, they won’t, because they are going to be spending the holidays in Hawaii. But if they’d stayed home, they would experience real change in Washington: The area appears set to have a rare white Christmas in 2009, as the biggest winter storm in years is racing toward the city.

With Saturday's snowfall expected to range from 5 to 15 inches or more, and with cold weather expected into next week, there should still be icicles hanging from the Truman Balcony on Dec. 25. The White House grounds likely will remain a snowy expanse.

That’s rare here in D.C., which every new president discovers is a more Southern city than he had thought. According to the National Weather Service, in the Washington area the chances of waking up on Christmas morning with snow on the ground are only 13 percent.

But Decoder believes that even that statistic overstates D.C.’s lack of wintriness. In 1964 it was 72 degrees here on Christmas Day. Whenever snow is in the forecast, residents stampede food stores, snatching up milk and power bars as if their lives – or even more important, their careers – depended on them.

For instance, the Washington Post website on Friday is hosting a chat about what you should do to get ready for the coming storm. The headline announcing the discussion? “Prepare for the Snow Apocalypse.”

President Obama was incredulous last January when his kids’ school shut over a dusting of snow. What’s he going to think when they have to mobilize the National Guard to protect the melting compound and pomegranate juice at Safeway?

But Washington’s kids will be as happy as, well, as Amy Carter was on Christmas morning in 1977, when she found a brand-new red, white, and blue chain saw under the tree.

No, we’re not making that up.


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