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Last week of autumn looks a lot like winter

The last official week of autumn will be much like the dead of winter, with arctic cold and snow in the forecast through Sunday.

A wind chill advisory in effect Monday was dropped but replaced by a winter storm watch for Wednesday afternoon through Thursday with 4 to 7 inches of snow expected in valley locations and more in the mountains.

More cold and snow are likely after that.

Winter officially arrives at 4:04 a.m. Sunday.

The expected low temperature Monday was 7 below zero in Spokane and could be even colder in areas of North Idaho and northeast Washington.

The high temperature today was forecast in the mid-single digits.

The Wednesday snow was expected to arrive in the region after forming as a low-pressure system over the Arctic Ocean that likely will be drawn southward. A reinforcing blast of arctic air could follow the snow Friday.

Forecasters said they were unsure about the weekend’s weather, although they expect the arctic conditions to ease slightly Sunday.

Inland Power mails refunds to customers

Inland Power and Light mailed out nearly $1.5 million in checks to customers last week.

As the not-for-profit electric cooperative reviews its books at the end of each year, the board decides whether the 37,000-plus members are owed a refund, said Kris Mikkelsen, Inland Power and Light’s CEO.

The $1.5 million is the largest refund in the co-op’s 71 year-history. It includes customers’ shares of Inland Power’s $2.8 million settlement with the Bonneville Power Administration over the residential exchange program.

The program spreads the benefits of the federal hydropower system on the Columbia and Snake rivers to all Northwest ratepayers.

The money flows from BPA – the dams’ operator – to other utilities.

Inland Power kept some of the settlement money for upcoming capital projects, which lowers the amount the co-op has to borrow from banks, Mikkelsen said.

Inland Power has customers in 13 counties in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. Customers entitled to less than $25 in refunds will not receive a check, spokeswoman Catherine Markson said.

The refund will accrue in their account for a future distribution, she said.

Mike Prager Becky Kramer