December 24, 2015

Lowland Snow over Western Washington?

I have gotten a number of emails from folks asking about lowland snow, something mentioned in some National Weather Service forecasts and local newspaper headlines.

Some outlets are even suggesting the possibility of a white Christmas around Puget Sound.

I hate to be the Grinch that Stole Christmas but I think lowland snow, other than a few errant snowflakes, is highly unlikely.

 The latest UW WRF forecast for the next 72 hr (starting at 4 PM this afternoon), shows very little snow near sea level, with the exception of a few locations (like far eastern King and Pierce counties) that get perhaps a dusting.   The big snow is even done in the mountains, which only a few inches are predicted.

 But that is just one forecast, here is the average accumulation from many snow forecasts from the NCAR ensemble system for 4 PM today to 4 PM X-MAS day.   Nothing around the Puget Sound lowlands.  Perhaps a better chance for dusting around Portland and the Willamette Valley.

 Ironically, the atmosphere above us is now marginally cold enough for snow on the higher hills, if precipitation was heavy enough.  But heavy precipitation is over, something apparent in the latest radar image (at around 11 AM Thursday).  These showers will die out today and tomorrow could well see some sun.  With the passes open, it will be an extraordinary day for skiing.  Perhaps the best in years.


 So enjoy a mainly dry and occasionally sunny few days.   And if you want some good news, the State of Washington is dropping its statewide drought designation as of the end of the month.  Our water resources have been restored: even the Grinch is probably happy about that.


  1. Thanks, Cliff. My wife works tomorrow, Christmas Day, at 6:00AM. I certainly don't look forward to putting the snow tires on the SUPER SAAB at 4:00 AM in the morning. With snow tires that 1992 SAAB 900 Turbo is a thing to'll blow past any Subaru...not to mention the Range Rovers...they won't even start when the temp drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit...

  2. Just as Cliff has said, here on a hill at 1000' near Sequim, whenever it starts to rain hard, it turns into big, fluffy flakes. When the rain rate slows, it turns back to liquid. Not sticking in any case, but very pretty when those huge flakes are coming down so thickly.

    But we did have one snow earlier this week on Bell Hill that made it nearly impossible to drive. A few inches of slush that froze. Couldn't get out of my steep driveway. But only stuck above 700' as far as I could see.

    My pack of Labradors loved sliding down the yard, wiggling on their backs as they skidded over the frozen snow the next morning.
    Why on their backs? I have weird dogs.

  3. Ugh! It just doesn't seem like Christmas when it's sunny so I'm hoping for no Sun. I'd really like another good windstorm if we can't get snow. Here's hoping next fall/winter delivers!

  4. Thanks John Marshall for that report from 1000' - we've been watching that snow line play with you all week from out here on the Prairie at 37F and rain but clearing off and temps may drop. May not snow much but watch out for ice.

  5. The weather from the north fired in and it was too much for the snow. Merry Christmas Cliff ⛄️

  6. No skiing at power still so they're closed.

  7. Was it just the movie based on the song that was sung by Bing Crosby that gave us this romantic notion of a "White Christmas"?

    I am sure that everyone trying to get over the Cascades and having to detour via the Columbia Gorge yesterday was cursing the concept. Personally I have never associated the holiday with the song much in any kind of romantic fashion. That was something for my parents' generation. Snow during the Holidays is always a bit of a hassle.

    The warm Christmas on the eastern seaboard is something. Wunderground is predicting a high of 73F on Sunday in Philadelphia. My daughter just moved back to Seattle from Philly to avoid any more Polar Vortex winters (among other reasons) and the current weather situation's irony is not lost on her.

    If this keeps up Sen. James Inhofe is going to have to import his Congressional Snowballs from elsewhere, perhaps the Sierras. Another concept of "White Christmas" floating around is something to be found in the brains of certain obnoxious Republican presidential candidates who will hopefully go down in flames electorically. Even though El Nino is most likely the cause, I am hoping that this disturbed weather pattern back east wakes more people up to our impending climate realities.

    Speaking of which, I am reading a fantastic book called "Future Arctic - Field Notes from a World on Edge" by Edward Struzic (Island Press, 2015) that describes in details the effects of global warming currently happening in the Arctic. Its shocking. I highly recommend this read.

  8. There is definitely skiing at Snoqualmie. The resorts can run on generators. One of the four mountains is open today from 9am - 10pm.

  9. Happy to report Christmas morning snow flurries in Bellingham @ sea level!

  10. A few flakes at 750' near Longview. We had some remain on the ground from Thursday though so we're calling it a White Christmas anyway ;√)

  11. Nary a flake over here in Bremerton, various elevations, 35'-400'. Although a friend noted best skiing anytime, anyplace, ever, at Crystal Thursday.

  12. There is definitely skiing at Snoqualmie. The resorts can run on generators. One of the four mountains is open today from 9am - 10pm.


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