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Weather can make Christmas memories

By Skip Rigney

What makes for a memorable Christmas? No doubt, happy times spent with family and friends lead the list. But, there are other factors to consider, including weather.

I recall a few years ago when our family gathered at my sister’s home in Ocean Springs. After our late afternoon Christmas meal, we all walked down to the beach. We pulled off our shoes, and everyone under the age of 75 played football in the sand and mild temperatures. As the game ended, we watched the setting sun light up the wispy clouds over Mississippi Sound in hues of pink and orange.

My memories are less fond of another Christmas Day when our house was full with about 20 family members. My main memory of that Christmas is of the nearly non-stop rain that kept all of us, including about half a dozen children under the age of eight, cooped up inside. By late that afternoon, more than a few of us were ready to volunteer for solitary confinement.

During a trip to northern New Mexico a few years ago, I met a woman who told me her Christmas weather story. Every Christmas Day she and her husband make the short 20-mile drive on Interstate 25 from Raton to her sister’s home in Trinidad, Colorado. It’s a short drive with one caveat. You have to go over the Sangre de Cristo mountains through Raton Pass at an elevation of 7,834 feet.

One Christmas morning this lady and her husband left their home as a few flakes of snow floated down around them. They only made it eight miles up the mountain before the snow was coming down so hard they couldn’t see. Reversing course, they spent the rest of Christmas Day back home in Raton.

If you live in Pearl River County and want to make a Christmas memory involving snow, you probably need to take a holiday vacation to a colder climate. Neither my memory nor a search of historical weather records turns up any evidence of a white Christmas in Pearl River County.

Ironically, our neighbors in Orleans, Jefferson, and St. Bernard Parishes had a white Christmas in 2004 when a Gulf low pressure system threw enough moisture over south Louisiana to produce a trace to one inch of the white stuff.

Christmas weather memories in Pearl River County tend to fall into the very cold and very warm categories. Even though we didn’t get snow, Christmas 2004 was a cold one for us. But, not as cold as 1983 and 1989 when Christmas began in the single digits. On the other end of the spectrum, in 2015 and 2016 Christmas highs near 80 degrees set records across the region.

If you’re staying home this Christmas, it is a safe bet that the memories you make this year won’t have anything to do with the weather. As I write this on Friday morning, the forecast for Christmas Day is for partly cloudy skies and mild temperatures. The day should begin around 50 degrees and warm up into the upper 60s. That’s about five to ten degrees warmer than the historical average temperatures for Christmas Day.

There might even be a few showers around, but hopefully not enough to create any memories.