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White Christmas a big maybe

Hoarfrost clings to maple twigs. (Mike Prager)
Hoarfrost clings to maple twigs. (Mike Prager)

Snoqualmie Pass already seeing first of incoming snow

The chances of a white Christmas have increased in the latest forecast from the National Weather Service as a pair of weak storms approaches the Inland Northwest for the weekend.

Forecasters are calling for a 30 percent chance of rain or snow on Saturday with a break on Saturday night to be followed by a 40 percent shot of rain or snow on Christmas Day.

The first storm system has already reached the Cascades, dropping a mix of snow and rain onto Snoqualmie Pass. Snow and slush was reported on the roadway about 7:30 a.m. By this afternoon, the snow had turned to all rain and the pavement was wet.

The mix of precipitation could lead to freezing rain in some locations. Light precipitation amounts are projected both days. Rain is generally expected south of U.S. Highway 2 across the Columbia Basin, which puts the Spokane area on the rain-snow line.

High temperatures go from the upper 20s today to the middle 30s through the weekend. Today’s forecast calls for partly sunny skies.

Lows will moderate some with the influx of milder Pacific air. Lows will go back into the middle to upper 20s.

Travelers are being warned to watch the forecast. Some areas could get hit with difficult road conditions, particularly the Cascade mountain passes, but also the passes in North Idaho.

There is a possibility of heavy snow at times in the Cascades.

The best chance of snow in the Spokane area appears to arrive on Monday night. However, accumulations are not going to be deep. Snow continues on Tuesday, but switches to rain on Wednesday.

At 7 a.m., it was 18 at Spokane International Airport.

December so far has been the driest on record, forecasters said, with only 0.04 inches of precipitation at the airport this month. The average is 1.7 inches. Last year, the city had 2.14 inches of precipitation during the first 22 days of December, including 7.2 inches of snow.

But the incoming storms through next week should bring up the precipitation amounts for the month and allow mountains snow pack to build, forecasters said.

The region also gains two minutes of daylight on Saturday with the sun rising one minute earlier and setting one minute later.

Tags: snow, weather

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