Dreams of a white Christmas may come true this weekend for residents across Lewis County.
The National Weather Service (NWS) is predicting light snow after 4 p.m. on Christmas day for the Twin Cities, with little to no snow accumulation on the ground, but more snow is likely to follow on Boxing Day and into early next week.
On the busy traveling weekend, this means drivers need to take extra safety precautions, said Ross McDowell, Lewis County Emergency Management's deputy director, such as keeping chains in the car and charging phones before driving.
In the event of being stalled while snowplows clear roadways, vehicles should be stocked with food, water and blankets. Mapping out alternative routes before leaving is also a good idea, McDowell said, but those sticking to the main drags such as U.S. Highway 12 shouldn’t have issues.
“Most of the passes you can still get cellphone coverage but please don't be using your cellphone while driving in snow. People are already white-knuckled while driving in snow,” he said. “And of course: lights on, slow down.”
According to NWS, there is a 90% chance of 1 to 4 inches of snow accumulation in the Twin Cities this weekend, a 60% chance of 4 to 6 inches and a 30% chance of more than 6 inches. White Pass is forecast to get 12 to 18 inches of new snow, and East Lewis County towns are likely to receive another winter blanket.
“So, we’re gonna get it,” McDowell said.
The question is just: how much?
The last white Christmas in Centralia and Chehalis was in 2017 when according to NWS, “trace” amounts of snow covered the cities overnight on Christmas Eve. Seeing snow at all in the towns in December is a rarity, McDowell said, but this is a La Nina year. Cold winds coming in from Canada are expected to bring unusual weather, with a drop to 19 degrees forecast for Monday night.
“That seems pretty burr-like,” he said. “That is really unusual for us to get that cold.”
Residents should follow cold weather guidelines to protect themselves and their homes including keeping heat on and possibly letting faucets drip overnight to avoid pipes bursting. Hoses should be removed from spigots, and spigots should be covered by a hose cover or hand towel.
“Make sure you're not burning something you’re not supposed to burn in the fireplace,” he said. “It’s sad but we always have to tell people, ‘Do not use any kind of propane inside the house.’ It's a surefire way to get yourself in deep trouble.”
Outdoor pets should be brought inside the house, he said, or at the least into a garage or outbuilding to shield them from windchill. If dogs must be kept inside a cold garage, hay should be added to their beds for extra insulation, and water bowls should be checked regularly for freezing.
McDowell only recently returned to Lewis County and said he’s been teased by the county commissioners after predicting a white Christmas earlier this year, so he will be thrilled if there really is one.
And as long as residents follow safety recommendations, the holiday should only be improved by the beauty of flurries.
“We’re very excited about a white Christmas this year,” McDowell said. “With everything that's been going on in ‘20 and ‘21, we deserve a white Christmas, we do. Even though it's a little more difficult with traveling, people still go ‘hey it's a white Christmas’ and they remember it. And it’s a little sunshine for them, no pun intended.”