Weather Eye: It’s cold and dry in the lowlands, and should continue to be

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We’ve had quite chilly weather, I would say, at least here in the lowest elevations. Early Monday morning was in the mid-20s in most of Vancouver, while at 1800 feet elevation in Portland’s West Hills, it was 41 degrees. Classic inversion. Amazingly, the afternoon freezing level was at 11,000 feet, which shows how high the warmer air aloft extended.

I recorded a low of 23 degrees under clear skies early Monday morning, then the fog rolled in, making for some dicey black ice on the roadways. There was enough moisture falling from the freezing fog that a dust of white could be seen blowing around on some roads, almost like a light snowfall.

Not much change to the weather pattern the rest of the week — maybe over the weekend we may see changes and things could go back to a wet pattern by the middle of the month. After all, it can’t stay dry forever, especially in December.

At least we managed to get out of the 30s Monday with the weak sunshine, topping off at 44 degrees. Most cities from Kelso northward up I-5 remained in the 30s for highs.

The heavy mountain snow fall in late November helped boost the snow water equivalent above normal in the Washington Cascades. Dec. 1 measurements were: 142 percent of normal in the north Cascades, 179 percent of normal in the central Cascades and 105 percent of normal in the southern Cascades. Of course, our dry spell is cutting into that early snow pack and I could see some barren spots appearing on the southern flank of Mount St. Helens on Monday afternoon.

The Washington State Climatologist office released a summary of the odds of a white Christmas in several cities around the Evergreen state. Of course east of the mountains there is always a better change and locally, well not much as you very well know.

The probabilities of, first, snow falling on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and then having snow on the ground Christmas Day go like this (in percentages): Vancouver 4/0; Olympia, 15/2; Seattle, 13/5; Bellingham, 17/6; Omak, 41/59; Wenatchee, 36/55; Yakima, 4 7; Walla Walla, 16/9; and Spokane, 47/55.

It’s true, in 2008 we had enough to beat a century of odds. But keep dreaming of a white Christmas in Vancouver, and most likely you will only see it in your dreams, ha, ha!

Patrick Timm is a local weather specialist. His column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Reach him at http://weathersystems.com.