With snow scarce, northern US has brown Christmas

By JOHN FLESHER | December 23, 2011 | 2:30 PM EST

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Dreams of a white Christmas are hanging by a thread in the northern U.S.

From New England to the Pacific Northwest, snowfall has been well below normal this season because of mild temperatures and wind that's bottled up cold air over Canada.

Some places in the Northeast and Upper Midwest might get the 1 inch that the National Weather Service requires to designate a white Christmas, but not much more.

The lack of snow is a blessing for people who don't like shoveling or driving in it.

But it's a disappointment for skiers, snowmobilers and other outdoor sports fans and the businesses that depend on them. Some downhill ski resorts are making enough snow to operate, but smaller ones are waiting for nature to help.