It’s that time of year when the very hopeful and very averse both wonder if there will be a White Christmas this year. Most years it’s mostly just a topic for casual conversation, and a reason to tell snowy stories about here and elsewhere. This year, however, the possibility is looking more probable – and yet, no one knows. Well, no one except for those with direct communications with Santa and Rudolph. In the meantime, here’s what various prognosticators are considering.
Take a look at the last two months of weather. It is no wonder that folks are simply assuming we’ll have cold air, lots of wind, and some sort of precipitation. Whidbey’s forecasts live in the zone between the atmospheric rivers that rise up from the tropics, drenching us with warm-ish rain; and the polar freezes that swing south from the arctic with cold, dry air. Snow happens at the border between the two when the moisture from one system punches into the frigid air from the other. Weather is hard enough to predict. Trying to predict where and when one system will arrive is tough. Timing two of them, well, few can even attempt such a feat. Here’s what a few of them are saying because they know we are going to ask.
National Weather Service
The National Weather Service is smart enough to know that forecasts more than five days out are really only guessing. In a recent forecast they did include a phrase that would work at any time, but particularly now; “some uncertainty in the actual setup.” Stay tuned because they enjoy tracking the probabilities, too.
Let’s go to the other extreme, the Farmer’s Almanac, which has historically had no problem predicting things a year in advance – as an advisory service, probably. “Fair but chilly for Christmas and the weekend.”
Cliff Mass is a professor (of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, as I recall). He’s not making specific predictions, but he is pointing out scientific analyses of trends, particularly of the yearly climatological swings. In the mountains through mid-January; “…snow will be bountiful over the entire region (6-10 feet)” and “And don’t forget we are in a moderate La Nina, with the rest of the winter weighted towards cold/wet conditions.” So not a yes or no, but a hint that the possibility exists.
Climate Central is “An independent organization of leading scientists and journalists…” that has been tracking the White Christmas trends (as a subset of their larger mission.) Interestingly enough, they point back to a different US government web site, this time from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which produced an interactive map showing the historic probability of >1 inch of snow on December 25th. There are great swathes of candidates within a short drive of Whidbey, but the odds here are low.
Accuweather repeats the chorus of snow up high, but without saying much about what’s down low.
The Weather Channel
The Weather Channel agrees, but creates some local mystery by putting a label for Seattle over Whidbey.
So, will we have a White Christmas? No one knows and that’s no surprise. We’re more than a week away, but by posting this early you get to pick your favorites then track the changes on their sites as the day gets closer. When it comes to winter storms, knowing early is better than knowing too late.
Or, kick back, enjoy island time, and simply see what happens early Christmas morning. Knowing now won’t change the weather then. But in the meantime, maybe restock the candles and batteries. If they’re not necessary the candles can become part of the decorations, and the batteries might be needed to power some presents.