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Region bracing for more snowfall

Sun., Dec. 21, 2008

Storm forecast today, and again Christmas Eve

Don’t put away the snow shovel.

As you read this, it’s probably snowing, and the snow is expected to last all day. Coeur d’Alene and Spokane could get 6 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm expected to start late Saturday was also likely to dump as much as 10 inches on the Palouse and other areas south and west of Spokane, meteorologist Jonathan Fox said.

“It will snow all day and even into the night,” he said. “We would expect to see snow continuing Monday morning. It’s sort of a long, drawn-out event.”

Spokane city crews made progress on plowing Saturday and continued removing the piles of snow from many downtown streets. Plans called for plowing in Browne’s Addition on Tuesday and Wednesday; that schedule will stay in place regardless of what new snow falls, city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said Saturday.

Even as crews made progress on the record snowfall, drivers continued to have trouble. The Idaho State Police reported numerous slide-offs and crashes Saturday.

North of Spokane, the Washington State Patrol and Spokane County Sheriff’s Office closed U.S. Highway 2 for several hours after a two-car injury collision about 2 p.m. at Farwell Road. Traffic was diverted around the crash until about 4:30 p.m.

City officials urged caution by drivers around the city’s 36 trucks and 21 road graders that were moving snow. If the new storm drops at least 2 inches, the city would pull the trucks off residential streets and return to arterials, Feist said.

“They will keep the graders in the residential areas regardless of new snow,” she said.

The new storm could mean it will take longer to reach unplowed residential streets, Feist said.

“The hardest part is when you have storm after storm,” she said. “Even the first 36 hours on this last storm, we were doing a lot of the same arterials over and over again just to keep people moving as best you could.”

That storm-after-storm scenario pretty much makes up the forecast for the coming week, Fox said.

After today’s storm ends, the next will likely come Wednesday night, Christmas Eve. That snowstorm is expected to last into Christmas Day, Fox said.

“If I had to guess, it looks like 6 inches or more are possible in Spokane,” he said. “That would certainly be true into (North) Idaho with the heavier amounts in the mountains.”

Yet another storm Friday could dump more snow, although Fox said he couldn’t predict how much.

The temperature won’t help matters much. Saturday’s low temperatures reached minus 18 at Spokane International Airport – beating the previous low of minus 6 set in 1983 – and minus 23 at a weather station southwest of Cheney. It was just below zero at Felts Field.

The highs for the this week are not expected to get out of the 20s.

“There is a glimmer of hope that by the time we get to next weekend that we actually see temperatures above freezing,” Fox said. “But between that time and now we have several chances of seeing significant snowfall.”


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