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Let it snow? Christmas may be white in Northeast, southern Plains, Seattle

Snow on Christmas Day marks the start of a week of wet and wild weather through much of the US, including more of the white stuff. Here's where residents will want their shovels and sleds.

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“The good news is that people will still be able to get to the stores even if they are a little delayed,” says Evan Gold, a senior vice president at Planalytics, a business weather advisory firm in Berwyn, Pa. “For most people along the I-95 corridor, it will be rain, not snow.”

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The area with the heaviest snow on Christmas Day is likely to be the southern Plains. A storm system will leave the Rocky Mountains this evening, and snow will begin to fall in the panhandle of Texas in places like Amarillo. By Christmas, Oklahoma City and then Tulsa will be battling blowing snow. Later in the day, the system will spread into the Ozarks, with some areas getting as many as six inches of snow.

The heavy white stuff that will hit the southern Plains on Tuesday will spread into the Ohio Valley on Wednesday. The greatest accumulations of snow will stretch from Indianapolis to Cleveland to Buffalo and Albany in upstate New York.

“In that slot, they could get six to 12 inches of snow or even more in some places,” says Kines.

Most of those cities are accustomed to handling a lot of snow, notes Mr. Gold. “Not only that, but they have tons of salt left over from last year when it barely snowed,” he says.

Some areas that normally get a lot of snow this time of year, such as Minnesota and Wisconsin, are not likely to see any with these systems. “Everything will be south of them,” says Kines.

On Sunday evening, the West Coast received a drenching rain. That stormy pattern is likely to continue, resulting in the snow in the Pacific Northwest. By Wednesday, Kines says, Los Angeles and San Diego will get some rain.

As that new system moves east, it could result in yet more snow and rain later in the week for other parts of the nation. However, it’s still too early to know if it will bring snow to the East, says Kines.

Looking ahead, Gold says the stormy pattern is likely to continue into January. However, the precipitation won't remain rain, but is likely to turn to snow in the east as temperatures fall. He views that as positive for merchants.

“Retailers will be able to clear out seasonal products such as cold-weather apparel and snowblowers,” he says. “Over the next few weeks, people will be buying based on need – and they will need winter coats and boots.”

Unlike last year when the ski resorts did not get much snow, this year will be different, Gold says. “This week if you planned to ski in Maine or Vermont, you picked a great time to go,” he says. “And if you plan on skiing in the Rockies or the mountains of California, it will be ideal. The ski resorts have been waiting for this.”

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