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No white Christmas in forecast
MONROE - If you're still dreaming of a white Christmas, you may want to adjust your expectations.

The forecast for today, the second day of winter, calls for a high of 54 with showers and fog. The gray that's been enveloping the area should lift by Thursday, when the National Weather Service predicts a high of 37 and partly sunny skies.

Christmas Day will have mostly sunny skies and a high of 39. By comparison, the normal temperature for that day is 28; the highest was 56 in 1982 and the coldest was a miserable -21 in 2000.

Many people are enjoying the unseasonably mild temperatures so far this winter even though 40 degrees makes it hard for that picture perfect white Christmas we've been hearing about. But in fact, NWS data shows it's not at all unusual to have a brown or green Christmas in southern Wisconsin. According to weather statistics from 1981 to 2010 , the Green County area falls in a band that is 51 to 60 percent likely to have at least an inch of snow on the ground. That means we're 40 to 49 percent likely to not see snow at Christmas.

And if you want a decent snow cover, the chances diminish even more. Specific data is not available for Monroe, but Madison, which is 67 percent likely to have 1 inch of snow on the ground, is 20 percent likely to have 5 inches and only 7 percent likely to have 10 inches of snow on Christmas.

Of course there's exceptions - like 1985 when Madison had 16 inches of snow on the ground, the highest snow depth for the time period.

Years when there's been no snow include 2014, 2006 and 1982. As it turns out, having two consecutive years with a green Christmas happens rather infrequently: Before 2015 and 2014, the last two years with green Christmases were 2002 and 2003, and before that it was 1975 and 1976.

It could be we're paying the piper after two consecutive white Christmases: Both 2013 and 2012 had a robust 9 inches of snow depth.

Want a guarantee of a white Christmas? Try Marquette and Sault St. Marie in Michigan or International Falls or Hibbing in Minnesota. Each of those communities come with a 100 percent probability of at least 1 inch of snow depth on Christmas.

For more information on Christmas Day snow statistics, see For a complete forecast, see Page A6.