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Weather watchers feeling snowed

Sun., Dec. 5, 2004

In retrospect, the operative word was “could.”

Friday’s paper reported that Saturday could bring “one of the largest snow dumpings to hit Spokane in the past decade.” But the 6 to 12 inches of snow originally forecast for Spokane by the National Weather Service did not fall Saturday.

As of 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Spokane International Airport had received zero inches of snow.

But don’t blame the meteorologists or the gullible reporters who provoked crowds to rush out and get in long lines for studded tires, flashlights and canned green beans before a whopper-of-a-storm wreaks havoc.

“It’s not an exact science. Sometimes things happen that are not easily modeled,” said Jeffrey Cote, a weather service meteorologist in Spokane.

Not exact? What about the 100 percent chance of snow predicted for Saturday by the weather service?

Well, in defense of the weather forecasters, snow did fall Saturday north of Spokane. And a rarity for this time of year occurred late Friday over the Pacific: The storm, which was rearing its ugly head toward the Inland Northwest, unexpectedly split in two. The lion part of it went toward California and the lamb portion moseyed toward Spokane.

On Friday 49 Degrees North Mountain Resort reported on its Web site that it would open for skiing today. But it posted a new message Saturday saying that because less snow fell than expected, it may not be able to open as planned.

If you still care to trust a weather story, the remaining part of the storm still is expected to bring 1 to 3 inches to the Spokane area today.

So those sleds, bags of salt and hours you spent waiting at the tire store may not be completely wasted.

On Friday, Miller’s Hardware at 29th and Regal sold six snowblowers and more than 50 shovels, said Mat McCoury , the store’s manager.

“After ice storm (of 1996), people really try to be more prepared for what might happen,” McCoury said.

Except for the people who don’t prepare.

McCoury said had the forecast come true, Friday’s brisk sales would have continued after the snow fell – propelled by the procrastinators. Without the white stuff, snow-related sales had dropped at Miller’s on Saturday.

And while skiers, toddlers and other snow enthusiasts might have been bummed, Saturday’s clear roads were a blessing for Jan Shelby.

She spent several days organizing an exhibit of Nativity scenes at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Spokane Stake Center, 1620 E. 29th Ave.

“The South Hill with snow on it, you know, it scares people,” she said. “So we were very grateful that it didn’t snow.”

The exhibit, which is free to the public, continues today from noon to 6 p.m. – if you dare to brave today’s snow. Which could happen.


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