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Sliver of hope for white Christmas on Long Island, forecasters say

Fans of a white Christmas are pretty much out of luck, historically speaking, if they're spending the holiday on Long Island. This year, though, there's a basis for a sliver of hope, long-range forecasters say.

Computer models are indicating a twinkle-in-the-eye potential for a system that could dip down to the Gulf of Mexico, then track up to the Northeast, just in time for Dec. 25, said Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.

This year, the odds may be a tiny bit tilted in snow-lovers' favor, as long-range forecasters are talking about a stormy pattern setting up from this weekend through just before New Year's. There's still uncertainty with a storm Saturday night into Sunday that's could bring "a wintry mix changing to rain scenario" to the region, Sosnowski said.

Though it's way too early to call, the pattern through the end of the year does mean more opportunities for snow, and hence "maybe the odds are a little higher" for its gracing the ground on Dec. 25, he said.

Historically, there's only a 16 percent chance for an inch or more of snow on the ground for Dec. 25, based on 1984-2013 data maintained for Long Island MacArthur Airport, according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University.

The snow could already have been on the ground, so it would not necessarily have contributed to that cozy, holiday-greeting-card image of flakes starting to fall in the wee hours of the morning, said Jessica Spaccio, a climatologist with the center.

So, if you want to alter the definition of a white Christmas from an inch on the ground to include flurries or a dusting, the snow odds based on previous years for the Island go up to around 33 percent to just under 50 percent, Sosnowski said.

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