Friday, January 27, 2023

Our chances for a White Christmas in North Idaho for 2022

| November 28, 2022 1:06 AM

It has certainly been a very cold November across the Inland Northwest. As of the weekend, the average high temperature for this month at Cliff’s station in northwestern Coeur d’Alene has been 36 degrees, about 10 degrees below-normal. Our coldest morning so far was Nov. 11 with single digits in the outlying areas. At the Spokane International Airport, average temperatures have been nearly 8 degrees below-average, despite a 51-degree high Nov. 4. In Coeur d’Alene, the warmest afternoon this month was Nov. 5 with a high of 52 degrees.

Every year at this time, Cliff and I give a forecast for the percent chance of a White Christmas across the Inland Northwest. Over the last several months, we’ve had a cooler-than-normal sea-surface temperature event, La Nina, in the waters of the south-central Pacific Ocean. As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, during La Nina years, our region often experiences above-normal snowfall. However, over the last several years during La Nina events, our overall snowfall totals were slightly below average.

The normal snowfall in Coeur d’Alene for November is 8.7 inches. As of the weekend, our total has been around 9 inches with more snow expected this week. Then, the first week of December is expected to start off very cold with highs expected to only be in the 20s. If the skies clear, it’s quite possible that we could have morning lows near zero, so if you have exposed pipes, I would consider getting them covered.

Based on these current weather patterns and the fact that we still have the cooler-than-normal sea-surface temperature event, La Nina, in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, Cliff and I see about a 75% chance of a White Christmas across the Inland Northwest, very good odds indeed.

Since 1895, there has been a White Christmas in Coeur d’Alene about 70% of the time, while the Spokane International Airport sees a White Christmas around 50% of the time. However, within the last 20 years, there have been 16 years with at least an inch of snow on the ground, including last year. The Christmas Day with the most snow on the ground was in 2008 with a whopping 44 inches. In 2015, there was 21 inches. That was during an El Nino year as ocean temperatures were warmer-than-average in the Equatorial regions. Big snowfalls in December during an El Nino year are not that common across the Inland Northwest, but they do happen about 25% of the time. In 2016, there was 13 inches on the ground on Dec. 25.

In 2018 and 2019, much of Coeur d’Alene barely had any snow on the ground on Dec. 25. It was disappointing that downtown Coeur d’Alene and other areas didn’t have any snow on the ground for Christmas during those years. In 2018, Cliff had slightly more than an inch on the ground on Christmas Day.

We’ve been in this pattern of frigid temperatures across the northern portions of the country. The long-range forecast charts are pointing to a series of storms moving across the region through at least the middle of the month. This is another big reason why Cliff and I are forecasting a good chance of a White Christmas in the Coeur d’Alene region. In fact, the outlying areas like Rathdrum, Hayden and Athol will have an 80% chance of snow on the ground on Christmas Day.

Elsewhere across the country, while much of the region from about Interstate 90 northward has a 70% to 80% chance of snow on Christmas Day, there is a 70% chance of a White Christmas across New England. Probabilities dip to 50% between I-90 and Interstate 80, which includes most of Idaho, Colorado, South Dakota, much of Nebraska, Iowa, northern and central Illinois, northern Ohio and Pennsylvania and New York State, but not New York City. The Big Apple only has a 40% chance of a White Christmas this year. By the way, some stations near Buffalo picked up over a whopping 80 inches of snow from lake-effect snows earlier this month.

Cities and towns in the central U.S. near Interstate 70 eastward to the Mid-Atlantic states likewise have around a 30% to 40% chance of seeing snow on the ground on Dec. 25. There is only a 10% chance of a White Christmas across parts of the southern U.S. this year, but anything is possible in this cycle of wide weather extremes.

Although we are in the cooler La Nina cycle, the southern U.S., including Southern California and the Desert Southwest are not likely to have any snow as we are in a warmer temperature pattern across the globe.

• • •

Contact Randy Mann at

Recent Headlines