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Snow is on the way: When, where, and how much we could see leading into Christmas

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ATTENTION SNOW LOVERS, WHITE CHRISTMAS 'WANTERS', SKIERS AND GENERAL WINTER ENTHUSIASTS: Snow is in the forecast this weekend ahead of Christmas. Twice, in fact.

There have been some drastic changes in the forecast models over the last 24 to 36 hours. Call it a perfect example of how weather is always changing, but the changes we're seeing come into fruition this holiday weekend could make for a White Christmas here in the Treasure Valley. (Oh, and it could create some tricky travel situations across the region depending on where you're headed).

The short answer to 'why' is this: The forecast is trending warmer and wetter. Here's the basic breakdown:

So let's break down what's happening:

WHY THE CHANGE: We're finally seeing that pesky ridge of high pressure that has kept us dry for so much of December break down and flatten out. That's going to allow storms that have been brewing out in the Pacific Ocean the chance to swing west into the western United States (a pattern we haven't seen much of lately). As a result, the forecast for the next week or so looks more unsettled, as we'll keep that door for storms open heading through this weekend and into early next week.

TRAVEL IMPACTS (Friday PM into Saturday AM): Snow that falls will likely stick, meaning roads could become snow covered quickly tonight and tomorrow morning. If you're going to be traveling into the mountains or anywhere in eastern Idaho, northern Utah, western Wyoming, or eastern Oregon, I would suggest to get on the roads earlier rather than later.

WHEN ARE WE GOING TO SEE SNOW?: While part of this answer depends on where you live (or where you're spending Christmas), it's safe to say that we'll see the potential for snow showers between now and Christmas Day. Right now, I'll break this down into two rounds

ROUND 1:

In the West Central mountains, Boise mountains and Sawtooth Mountains, snow could start falling late this morning, but the winter weather will become more widespread across the state this afternoon and into the evening. Precipitation could possibly start as a rain/snow mix this afternoon in the lower valleys, but will change over to all snow this evening as temperatures dive below freezing.

Snow that falls this evening and tonight will likely stick. Because models show snow showers could stick around overnight and into tomorrow morning for much of the region, it's looking likely that we could wake up to some light accumulations on the valley floor, with more in the mountains.

Here's a look at the ballpark figures for projected snow totals. NOTE: This can and may very well change as we inch closer to this storm. I mention three inches in the valley because if all holds together and we see snow carrying over into Saturday morning, we could pick up another inch. So, I'm thinking an inch or two today and tonight for parts of the Treasure Valley. Areas along the western edge of the state will see less (the lower Treasure Valley is forecast to see up to one inch, if that).

While the Boise and West Central mountains are forecast to see between two to six inches between today and early tomorrow, I hope the ski areas will be some of the harder-hit spots! They need all the fresh snow they can get at this point in the season!

Let's talk ROUND 2:

The snow that has been added to the forecast in the last 24 hours (Round 1) is a perfect example of why I don't want to speculate too too much on the impacts of snow on Christmas Eve.

However, the next storm that will impact our region will drive in from the Pacific Ocean (a more ordinary storm track compared the origins of this first round of snow). At this point, I'm thinking we could see moderate snow accumulation in the mountains both Sunday and Sunday night, followed by lingering flurries Christmas morning. At this point, computer models do show this snow moving through the Treasure Valley and parts of southern Idaho in addition to the high terrain.

If that all plays out like models suggest it might, I would be willing to bet there's a good possibility of a White Christmas (and maybe even some flakes on Christmas Day itself).

BEYOND THAT

The pattern looks to stay active. There's at least a chance of some snow showers in the mountains just about each day through the 7-day forecast, which to me, signals that an unsettled trend will continue. As far as snow, anything helps in the mountains. Here in the valley, we'll watch for another chance of snow leading into the middle part of next week.

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