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Randy Mann: Odds of white Christmas in Inland Northwest promising

Thu., Dec. 5, 2013

It’s really feeling like winter across the Inland Northwest as frigid air from Canada has invaded the region. We’re now into December and, of course, the big question is, “Are we going to have a white Christmas?”

I believe the chances are better than 50/50 in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area.

We’re in a La Nada, the sea-surface temperature pattern between the cooler La Niña and warmer El Niño in the south-central Pacific Ocean. We also are experiencing generally low solar activity.

In La Niña years, our region typically sees above normal snows. By contrast, during El Niño years, we often see milder winters with more rain than snow in the lower elevations.

As of early this week, long-range computer models have a series of snowstorms moving across the Inland Northwest beginning next week. These systems should bring enough snow to the lower elevations for a white Christmas. However, there have been years when a warmer storm system will literally melt the valley snow in a very short period of time. At this time, I don’t see that type of scenario.

Since 1881, we’ve had 63 days with more than a trace of snow on the ground on Dec. 25, or about 48 percent of the time.

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