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Travel window open, snow coming

The Inland Northwest remains under a winter storm warning with heavy snow arriving tonight. And so far, travel was moving along.

Flights and trains were running with delays, officials said. Greyhound buses to Portland and Billings, Mont., were cancelled until further notice.

The usual delays were affecting the Spokane International Airport, said spokesman Todd Woodard. Other than that, flights were running as planned.

Amtrak was running routes as normal out of Spokane with long delays, officials said. One exception was a train due to arrive Christmas Day from Chicago that had been cancelled, said Marc Magliari, Amtrak spokesman. A note on the railway’s Web site from the president and CEO thanked passengers for their patience during this holiday season.

As for people planning to drive to Oregon, Montana or Western Washington, Tuesday would have been best or this morning. However, the Snoqualmie and Stevens passes remained open as of 11:30 a.m. Traction devices are required on Snoqualmie and recommended on Stevens, according to the Washington Department of Transportation. Travelers should call 511 before driving to check conditions.

The National Weather Service says more snow is falling across the state with heavy accumulations expected in the Inland Northwest tonight.

Forecasters expect 5 to 9 inches of new snow by Christmas Day in Spokane, 5 to 9 inches in Coeur d’Alene, 4 to 7 inches in Pullman, 4 to 8 inches around Moses Lake and 9 to 12 inches in Sandpoint. A winter storm warning is in effect for much of Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

Heavy snow also is forecast for the mountains with 10 to 20 inches at the Cascade passes, meteorologist Todd Carter said.

“The jet stream is kind of waffling north and then it will come down to the south, ushering in more cold air by Monday,” he said. “It’s a really active storm pattern with several storms queued up to hit us from the west.”

Another storm is expected Friday with some more snow accumulation, forecaster say.

Warmer air could bring rain on Sunday, but it’s expected to cool back down Monday and more snow could hit Tuesday, Parker said.

“The rain-snow line is going to fluctuate quite a bit between Monday and Wednesday, with rain at times and snow at times,” Carter said. “The mountains will see appreciable more snow.”

As the weather forecast continues to bring bad news, the City of Spokane actually had some good.

—Crews completed a complete plow of Spokane Tuesday and started the next one today, city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said.

Crews returned to Browne’s Addition today to do the east-west streets. Car owners need to move their cars in advance of the plows, or the city will tow them at the owner’s expense.

—Garbage pickup in the city did proceed but trucks again did not reach all the areas. Residents who were bypassed can put out twice as much refuse next week on their regularly scheduled pickup day. Residents who have alley service should put their cans in the street instead.

—The City of Spokane Valley continues to make progress on its plowing efforts, spokeswoman Carolbelle Branch said in a news release. Crews completed clearing hillside residential areas and are now making a second pass on primary and secondary arterials.

—Kootenai County Fire and Rescue issued pleas Tuesday, which were echoed by officials in Spokane County, to ask residents to dig out fire hydrants in their neighborhoods. Residents should also keep their house numbering clear to assist emergency responders in the case of an emergency.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.