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Will we have a white Christmas in Spokane? Here are the chances

Warmer winters in Spokane mean the odds of a white Christmas are getting worse.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The slow start to this winter’s snow has many of us wondering whether or not there will be any of it on the ground come Christmas. The lack of snow so far this season is proving to be a sign of the times. As climate change continues to warm the Northwest, Christmas snow is becoming rarer in Spokane.

Historically, the odds of a white Christmas in Spokane sit at about 60%. That means in 6 out of every 10 winters there is at least one inch of snow on the ground in Spokane on Christmas day. 

The latest numbers change those odds, and in a big way. The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) recently released an interactive map detailing the odds for a white Christmas around the country and things aren’t looking good for Spokane.

The latest climate data puts Spokane at less than a 50% chance of having an inch of snow on the ground come Christmas Day. Climatological norms are calculated based on a 30-year average, renewed each decade. The latest numbers span 1991-2020 and the running average gives Spokane a 48% chance of a white Christmas, about a 10% drop from the historical average.

Credit: NCEI

A slight increase in temperatures means more cold rain and rapid snow melt. That combination might not sound like much, but it is the perfect storm for keeping snow off the ground come late December.

The saving grace here is that those numbers are averages. Meaning, those are the odds of seeing a snowy Christmas based on what we have seen in the past. And while the data is alarming, this particular year might not fall into the new norm.

What does the forecast look like?

Christmas sits just 3 days away. And believe it or not, forecasting the snow on the ground is still a gamble. The few inches of snow we have on the ground today has a big battle ahead. A round of warm temperatures and rain move in Wednesday afternoon and last through the first half of Thursday. That's enough to melt most of what sits in place right now.

Call me an optimist, but I haven’t given up hope just yet and with more chances of snow in the forecast, I’d say the odds are better than a normal year. Both Friday (Christmas Eve) and Saturday (Christmas Day) give us a chance of accumulating snow. To me, that means it's likely not all of the snow melts by the time temperatures cool, and the little ice that is left gives the perfect base for a blanket of white come Christmas Eve!

Hoping for a Christmas miracle,
Meteorologist Jeremy LaGoo

WATCH MORE: Jeremy LaGoo's 2021-2022 winter forecast: What La Niña could bring to Spokane, North Idaho