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Icy, dicey roads ahead

MONDAY, DEC. 24, 2007

Whether you’re zipping out today for last-minute gifts, dinner fixings or the holiday trip to grandma’s, road conditions remain dicey.

Throughout the region, many streets and highways are likely to be slick and snow-covered over the Christmas holiday and on through Saturday.

Roads wet from rain and melting snow Sunday night might be icy this morning. In addition, more snow showers are possible today and tonight across Eastern Washington, the National Weather Service said.

Christmas Day is expected to be cloudy but dry in the Spokane area. As the week progresses, forecasts call for a chance of snow daily through Saturday.

At higher elevations and in mountain passes throughout the Inland Northwest, heavy snow accumulations could make travel hazardous, and chains or snow tires could be mandatory on some passes.

Mountains in the Idaho Panhandle might see snow every day this week, forecasters said.

Police agencies urge travelers to give themselves plenty of time to reach their destinations and to use caution.

“Check the road conditions, make sure your vehicle is in good shape, (that) you have chains … and a cell phone in case you run into an emergency,” Washington State Patrol Sgt. Jim Hays said.

The mix of winter weather and drivers going too fast or following too closely spawned scores of weekend collisions across the Inland Northwest.

Saturday evening, Nicole Wright, 37, was cited for driving too fast after she lost control of her car on slippery Interstate 90 and slammed into a pair of idling WSP patrol cars assisting at a three-car wreck in Spokane Valley, police said.

WSP Communications Supervisor Tim Hannah said it appears both Crown Victoria squad cars will be totaled. Sgt. Douglas Jacobs, the only officer in either patrol car, bumped his head in the crash. A fellow officer took Jacobs to Valley Hospital, where Jacobs was examined and released.

Police are waiting for results of Wright’s toxicology tests and could file charges against the Colville woman, Hannah said.

Before you hit the road, Hays recommends filling the gas tank, checking tire integrity and alerting loved ones to the routes you’re taking and your estimated time of arrival.

Be sure to figure in additional travel time for all of the safety precautions, he said.


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