Just where is that white Christmas everyone talks about?


First Posted: 12/26/2008

Another Christmas has come and gone, leaving me with the feeling of being cheated. Thats not due to Santa overlooking me or anything like that, but because once again we had no snow here on Christmas Day.
I say once again, because this has become an all-too-familiar weather pattern in Surry County. As a person equipped (or cursed) with an inquiring mind, I was curious about just exactly how long it has been since Mother Nature truly blessed Mount Airy with a so-called white Christmas.
It had been quite a while, I suspected, but the actual answer proved extremely shocking, enough to make Bing Crosby spin in his grave. Crosby, for the benefit of our younger readers, was a singer and actor who popularized the classic song, White Christmas, and appeared in a movie of the same name.
Crosby died in 1977 while playing golf in Spain. The reason I bring that up is that even though the late 1970s seems like a long time ago, its pretty close to the time when Mount Airy last had the white Christmas that Mr. Crosby so longingly dreams about in his beloved song.
A check with Jon Stickel at Mount Airys F.G. Doggett Water Plant the citys official weather-monitoring station confirmed the dreaded result.
Research of local weather records going all the way back to 1924 showed that the last time Mount Airy had a white Christmas was in 1981 27 years ago, the same year Ronald Reagan took office as president. Yes, that was the most recent occasion this area had measurable snowfall on Dec. 25, with 2 whole inches falling on that fateful day back in 81 only four years after Bing Crosby left this world via a Spanish golf resort.
The golf factor also is notable because on Thursday, with the temperature topping out at a balmy 61 degrees here, conditions were far more favorable for golf balls than snowballs.
One hates to think this is a sign of global warming or some other impending ecological upheaval, but it would seem that Mount Airy would have had a white Christmas at least once in the past 27 years.
The sad thing about all this is that without snow, I believe we are being deprived of one of the most important ingredients of the yuletide season. For example, just about every Christmas card you get will have snow in there somewhere. I am now looking at one on my desk showing two children building a snowman, with snow-covered hillsides in the background.
Right beside it is another card sent by the Mount Airy Police Department, which displays an artists rendering of a Mayberry squad car. It is not heading down a street, but positioned in the snow among a bunch of evergreen trees also covered with that elusive white substance.
Other cards depict the customary snow-covered village. All the glowing little houses and churches are beautiful, but the snow is what elevates them to the realm of the picturesque.
I know some people around here freak out at the mere mention of S-N-O-W, but what would it hurt to have a little on Christmas Day, just enough to cover the ground and provide that wintry atmosphere to enhance the holiday? After all, the whole county virtually shuts down at Christmas, and everyone basically is trapped inside homes anyway. There would be no reason to rush out to the store to stock up on milk and bread, since all the supermarkets would be closed.
It would seem that people are schizophrenic about snow. On one hand, they fear snow. Yet on the other hand, we embrace it, with snow being granted the same iconic status as Santa Claus, Christmas trees and stockings by the fire (a fire that wasnt needed this Christmas due to the heat).
Of course, Jingle Bells simply wouldnt be the same song without the one-horse open sleigh mentioned as dashing through the snow in its lyrics. Somehow, dashing down a completely dry road in a Pontiac Firebird, which is all I could do on Christmas Day, didnt have the same meaning.
I dearly love Mount Airy, and wouldnt trade our overall climate for anywhere elses, certainly not the temperature extremes to be found to the south in summer and farther north in winter. So Im not planning on relocating to International Falls, Minn., anytime soon just to experience a white Christmas.
But if this keeps up, I think we need to quit sending out Christmas cards containing snow scenes and substitute ones showing Santa getting a suntan or a sleigh covered with cobwebs parked inside a shed.
While those might sound ridiculous, at least they would be a more accurate depiction of the Christmastime weather in our neck of the woods.
Tom Joyce is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at [email protected]

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