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Heavy Snowfall Could Make Holiday Travel Dangerous

Travelers are being warned to expect snow on Thanksgiving Day.

The National Weather Service on Monday issued a special statement warning of potentially heavy snowfall Thursday and Friday. The heaviest amounts are expected in the mountains.

“It certainly will make travel treacherous, especially across the passes,” said Todd Carter, National Weather Service forecaster in Spokane.

Between now and Thursday, forecasters are calling for a chance of snow showers or light snow, but no significant accumulations. Fog could settle into some areas today and Wednesday.

Lows will be in the mid-20s and highs in the low-30s. Thursday’s storm could carry a risk of breezy winds, too.

A private forecasting firm that provides weather information to the city of Spokane is calling for a chance of 30 mph winds with the storm.

Carter said strong winds do not appear likely, but couldn’t be ruled out.

The major question remains unanswered. When will the thaw come?

Carter said computer models have been showing a warming trend, but there is so much cold air hugging the ground in the Inland Northwest it will take a fairly strong storm to clear it out.

If the storm predicted on Thursday tracks to the north of Spokane, it could draw milder air from the south and bring above-freezing temperatures to the area. If that happens, the snow could switch to rain. If the storm tracks to the south, temperatures would stay cold.

After the Thursday storm, more storms lined up in the Pacific Ocean should extend the inclement weather through the weekend, Carter said.

The threat to travelers will ease if temperatures warm, but it’s not clear they will.

This month already is stacking up as the snowiest November in 11 years. Nearly 17 inches have been measured so far at the weather office near Airway Heights.

The brutally cold November of 1985 brought several below-zero nights and nearly 24 inches of snow.

, DataTimes