A roof at a Rosauers store at Five Mile collapsed this evening, forcing evacuation of adjacent businesses.
Fire officials said about 25,000 square feet of the roof fell and that no persons were trapped in the debris.
Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said the store at 1724 W Francis had suffered a catastrophic roof collapse at 4:38 p.m. The failure was at the center of the store. All employees and customers were safely evacuated and accounted for.
A command post was being established in the front of the building, he said in a press release.
Joan Waters of northwest Spokane said she was on her way home from work when she stopped at the store to get cakes for family birthdays this week. While the baker was inscribing the cake she said she heard a loud crashing sound coming from the ceiling to be followed by several more crashes.
“One of the managers came out and started screaming, “The roof is collapsing,”” she said.
“The store was not that crowded so there was not a major traffic jam at the front door.”
Stacy Hayes at Chic-A-Ria restaurant said her business in the same strip mall complex building was closing as of 5:30 p.m. “They are asking everybody to leave,” she said.
Today’s storm dumped 8 inches or more in the Spokane area and set a new all-time monthly record for Spokane.
Gusty winds blew over the region in the wake of heavy snow, closing Airport Drive between U.S. Highway 2 and Spokane International Airport.
Also closed was U.S. Highway 195 near Spangle, state Highway 28 west of Odessa, state Highway 231 near Edwall and state Highway 25 north of Davenport, authorities said.
Wind gusts of 52 mph in Pullman, 46 mph in Coeur d’Alene and 41 mph in Spokane were reported before nightfall. Winds were to subside this evening.
For those wondering if the snow will end, keep the shovels handy. Snow continues to dominate the forecast throughout the week.
Meanwhile, today’s snow storm shut down area libraries, City Hall and Community Colleges of Spokane early.
Temperatures above freezing in Spokane allowed for the heavy snow to get packed down by traffic and turn into a thick layer of slippery compacted snow and ice.
“I heard we were going to get 13 inches in three days, I didn’t know we were going to get it all today,” joked Everett Wright of Spokane.
Spokane plows retreated to major arterials at mid-day in an effort to keep the city from being choked.
Plows retreated to major arterial routes, including Francis, Wellesley, Second, Third, 29th and 37th avenues; Maple, Ash, Stevens, Division, Market, Thor and Ray streets; and the South Side corridor of Grand Boulevard, Stevens and Bernard streets.
Some residential plowing was also underway, said Marlene Feist, Spokane city spokeswoman.
Spokane County crews returned to plowing primary arterials and emergency routes with help from the Washington Air National Guard’s 141st Refueling Wing has been mobilized for assist in snow removal efforts, county officials said.
The heavy snow ended in Spokane at 1:30 p.m, which gave plow crews time to catch up.
About noon, two streets were closed in Spokane: the Monroe Street hill on the South Side and Browne Street from 5th Avenue to the hospital, officials said. These are closed until further notice.
Traffic was moving slowly today with a mix of road conditions reported, including compact snow and ice as well as some black ice. Traffic lights were reportedly not working at some intersections.
A fire truck got stuck in front of Station No. 1 at Riverside and Browne, a police car got stuck downtown and two Spokane Transit Authority buses were involved in an accident, including one at Division and Mission this morning.
In addition, two tractor-trailer rigs were jackknifed and blocking traffic on Browne Street just north of Riverside Avenue. One rig was moved and traffic reopened.
The afternoon commute could get dicey as winds gusting to 35 mph are expected to rake across the area, causing drifting and blowing snow in some places, forecasters said.
Areas such as Airway Heights, Cheney, Medical Lake, Davenport, Pullman, Pomeroy and Rockford are considered most vulnerable to the winds. The gusts could hit 40 mph in the Palouse.
The Spokane Fire Department today reported that the weight of accumulating snow and rain is taking its toll on some buildings and gas lines.
The department said the city has had six incidents involving natural gas leaks where snow or ice fell and sheared off gas meters; two chimney or stove pipe collapses; and 15 roof collapses involving buildings and car ports.
At Spokane International Airport at mid-morning, both arrivals and departures for Southwest Airlines were being cancelled because of bad weather conditions, a Southwest spokesperson said. The airline was expected to resume service by Monday night. Other airlines reported delays.
Spokane Transit Authority reported that all of its scheduled routes were operating, but warned riders of possible delays. At noon, STA reported some minor detours were occurring.
“At this point and time we have all the routes running but with some detours,” said Molly Myers, STA spokeswoman. She recommended checking the STA Web site for current bus operations or detours at spokanetransit.com/.
The next storm is anticipated Tuesday evening. A 50 percent chance of snow is forecast for Thursday with snow on Thursday night and rain on Friday. Snow showers or a chance of snow remain in the forecast through the weekend.
“The train of storms continues,” said forecaster John Livingston.
In the mountains, forecasters said several feet of new snow should pile up by the end of the week. At 49 Degrees North ski area, the top of Chewelah Peak had 69 inches of snow this morning with 58 inches of snow at the lodge.
Similar amounts were reported at Schweitzer Mountain Resort today.
Temperatures for the Inland Northwest are back down into the lower 30s and 20s after Sunday’s warmer weather, according to the weather service. The highs and lows for the week will stay in that range.