Think snow: Chance for flurries in the Inland Northwest Thursday - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

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Think snow: Chance for flurries in the Inland Northwest Thursday

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

With it now being December bad weather is almost inevitable. Sunday we are watching a cold front sweep down from British Columbia and bring the coldest temperatures we have seen, since January 2!

Sunday that cold front will push through with temperatures, at the time, being in the mid to upper 30s before dropping to the 20s and teens overnight into Monday morning. So be prepared for some cold temperatures! Throughout the week expect twenties for high temperatures and teens to even single digits for overnight lows! But this isn’t the reason for writing.

We are keeping a very close eye on a system brewing in the Pacific, and unlike that pot of coffee we will need this week to keep warm, when this storm hits, it will likely be as snow. So the question always comes up – how much? I’ll tell you right now, I won’t be answering that question, but throughout this, we will detail out possibilities of what could happen.

Here is a look at the system at Wednesday 4pm.

For those wondering why it says 00z UTC Thursday we have to convert to Pacific Time, which comes to 4pm Wednesday.

This storm so far isn’t too impressive, except that temperatures for Wednesday are expected to be in the 20’s and teens and that system is bringing with it quite a bit of moisture. Scoot ahead to Thursday morning at 10am and its moving into the Pacific Northwest.

Again, quite a bit of moisture from this system and is expected to bring snowfall to the region with temperatures expected to stay below freezing. So let's get to snow for the region.

Before I get to snow chances, I want to remind everyone that we are trying to predict the future here. Not easy to do especially since I have no clue what I’ll be eating for dinner tomorrow night. Thankfully, models do an adequate job of predicting what will happen, so we look to them for guidance.

For this I will start low and work my way up and I am going to focus on four different models. To start the European Model, I like to call it old reliable. The EURO or ECMWF, as its called, is on the lower end as far as snow goes next week. Starting early Thursday morning and lasting until 10pm Friday is showing between about 3-6” of snow. Not exactly a hefty amount by any means but enough to slow traffic and make things hectic around here!

EURO ending Friday 10PM

Again, the Euro not too impressive… But wait! There is more! Because to be honest, you have to have choices! For you Coug fans you can turn away from the next model but if you don’t mind the Huskies, I grabbed their WRF model and their 72 hour accumulation map.

UW WRF Model

This model a bit more impressive showing between about 6 and 11 inches between Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. Please though, take it with a grain of salt because we are still several days out and it is a low resolution model so details are not exact.

So far between the ECMWF and WRF we have a range for Spokane about 4 and 7” of snow. However, we cant stop here we still have more to show!

From here we turn to the GFS (Global Forecast System) which gives us ensemble run averages and higher resolution models. For the picture below the GFS is the blue line and the grey lines are for GEFS (Global Ensemble Forecast System), which there are 21 different forecasts to choose from. As you can see by the picture below the range is from 3 all the way up to 10+ inches of snow with the black line being the average of about 7” for Spokane.

GEFS & GFS Snow plumes

Finally we look to the Meteogram Generator. For this it runs the GFS and NAM (North American Model). NAM unfortunately is a much higher resolution model and only goes out to about 84 hours and this snow event is still quite past that mark. Again though you can see quite a range even from the GFS.

Meteogram Generator

Now the meteogram is especially helpful because it shows not only the most recent model but compares it to the previous as well. Should note that the GFS follows the solid line. Don’t worry about the dashed lines, we are not expecting 22” inches of snow.

So why get everyone hyped for snow? Well unlike other systems recently it will not be a matter of “How soon will temperatures be dropping below freezing.” This system is more, “OK it's cold. How much snow will it produce?”

Confidence is very high that there will be accumulating snow. However, pinpointing a number as to how much, as you can see is extremely difficult to do. At this point the range from the models could be anywhere between 3-12” of snow. So there is still a lot of uncertainty. As we get closer and closer to Thursday, models will become clearer and slowly start to align giving us a better picture of what to expect. Again, snow will be likely on Thursday and even Friday so make plans now and be prepared. Of course as we get closer to the event, we here at KHQ will keep you posted. Until then, THINK SNOW!

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