SEATTLE -- Anyone who has lived in the Western Washington lowlands for a long time knows that getting that fresh blanket of snow on Christmas morning is a rare event around here. But new numbers suggest the chances are dropping even more in recent years.
Monday, NOAA published the odds of having 1" of snow on the ground on Christmas morning now using data from between 1980 and 2010.
Seattle's chances? Down to 5 percent. They're about 7-8 percent if you take in data over several decades than just the past 30 years. Similarly paltry numbers are found just about anywhere else in the lowlands: 6 percent in Olympia and Sedro-Woolley, 4 percent on Whidbey Island, 2 percent in Bremerton. Best chance? 8 percent in Bellingham. Worst? The ocean beaches which are near zero.
Blame our proximity to the Pacific Ocean, which is 50 degrees in the winter and keeps incoming storm systems above freezing. We need to draw in some arctic air from B.C. ahead of a storm system for snow to fall, and that hasn't happened on Christmas Day since all the way back in...
Yep, last year's sneaky little snow on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day qualified as an official White Christmas in Seattle. Before that, 2008 was our last one.
But if you want rain on Christmas Day? That's considerably easier. There is about a 65 percent chance on any given year it will rain on Christmas Day.
If you need to have your snow on Christmas, it's just a drive away though. The Cascades have a 90-100 percent chance of snow on the ground (depending on the elevation). Spokane has about 60 percent chance, while Yakima is about 50/50.
As for the odds of a White Christmas this specific year? Ehh... likely in the 95 percent "no-snow" chance. Generally we're looking at a typical mostly cloudy day with a few showers with highs in the mid 40s. But if you need a Christmas miracle, there is one forecast model out of a group of 52 that predicts the possibility of...0.10 inch of snowfall. Which essentially means a snowflake might be mixed in with the rain. The other 4 dozen-plus models offer no hope.