As we get closer to Christmas Day, I’ve been asked about the chances for a white Christmas across the Inland Northwest.
Based on expected weather patterns, there is a 70 to 80 percent chance of a white Christmas from Canada south into northeastern Washington, North Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, northern Minnesota and points eastward into New England.
Since records were kept in Spokane, there have been 62 days with more than a trace of snow on the ground on Dec. 25 since 1881. Based on climatology, the Spokane region has seen a white Christmas about 48 percent of the time. In Coeur d’Alene, there have been 84 days since 1895 with more than a trace of snow on the ground.
Probabilities dip to 50 percent between Interstate 90 and Interstate 80, which includes most of Idaho, Colorado, South Dakota, much of Nebraska, Iowa, northern and central Illinois, northern Ohio and Pennsylvania and New York State, but not New York City. The Big Apple only has a 30 percent chance of a white Christmas this year.
Cities and towns in the central U.S. near Interstate 70 eastward to the Mid-Atlantic states likewise have around a 30 percent chance of seeing snow on the ground on Dec. 25. There is only a 10 percent chance of a white Christmas across most of the South this year, but anything is possible in this cycle of wide weather extremes.
In 2010, rare snows were reported on Christmas Day in northern Mississippi, northern Georgia and the Carolinas. This year, however, there is only a 10 percent chance of snow in these areas on Dec. 25. Last year, a light dusting of snow was seen in drought-stricken north Texas. For 2012, the chances are only 30 percent or so for Amarillo and 10 percent for the Dallas/Fort Worth areas.
Around the globe, much of northern Europe and northern Asia have a very good chance for a white Christmas again in 2012. Record snows have already buried northern Japan this November as well as parts of northwestern China and Mongolia.
The northern British Isles have a 50 percent chance of a white Christmas, which is high for that Gulf Stream-warmed region. There is an 80 to 100 percent probability of snow across Norway, Sweden and Finland. From Eastern Europe into Russia, there is a 60 to 90 percent chance for snow on Dec. 25. Even northern Italy has a 20 to 30 percent chance of seeing snow on Dec. 25. There could be a rare blanket of snow this Dec. 25 in Venice, Italy, where the canals froze last winter for the first time in decades.