November 21, 1996 in City

More Frigid Nights Are On The Way Tuesday’s Crippling Ice Storm Most Intense In At Least 60 Years

By The Spokesman-Review

Cold is expected to tighten its grip over the Inland Northwest for the next several days and slow the cleanup from Tuesday’s damaging ice storm.

Temperatures are forecast to be in the low 20s at night.

Weather observers Wednesday said they couldn’t remember a storm that approaches the intensity of Tuesday’s brutal glazing.

Apparently, it was the worst ice storm in at least 60 years, they said. The National Weather Service does not have records of a worse ice storm.

Weather observer Harry Vaughan, who has kept meteorological records on Spokane’s North Side since 1936, said he’s never seen one like Tuesday’s either.

“I’ve recorded freezing rain, but nothing like this,” said the 80-year-old Vaughan.

He said he doesn’t remember other dramatic ice storms before he started keeping his detailed records.

The National Weather Service recorded 1.24 inches of precipitation on Tuesday. That included three inches of snow and nearly an inch of rain, which froze to trees, power lines and fences.

That amount is heavy by any measure in Spokane.

The last time so much precipitation fell in one day was in October 1994.

Vaughan measured 1.6 inches of precipitation at his amateur weather station near Shadle Park.

Spokane’s average precipitation for the entire month of November is 2.06 inches.

Looking ahead, forecasters said the weather today is expected to be partly sunny, with a high of 32 degrees.

Ice exposed to bright sun could begin to thaw even if it stays below freezing. That happened Tuesday when the high reached only 28 degrees and ice loosened from trees and pavement in the sunlight.

“We should continue our slow thaw,” said Paul Frisbie, National Weather Service forecaster in Spokane.

A new winter-like storm is expected to hit the Pacific Northwest tonight and Friday, striking mainly in southern Oregon and northern California. However, some light snow could brush the Inland Northwest, Frisbie said.

That will reinforce the cold air by keeping the Inland Northwest on the cold side of the jet stream. Winds are expected out of the northeast.

Lows should run in the 20s and highs in the low 30s both days, Frisbie said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

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