Whipping winds, drifting snow and ice closed part of a highway and contributed to accidents around the Inland Northwest Sunday, and colder weather may be in store for the region.
In Spokane, city officials announced the opening of warming shelters for the homeless Sunday, when temperatures were expected to be as low as 11 degrees Fahrenheit, before wind chill.
Available only when temperatures are slated to drop to 15 degrees or lower and homeless shelters were full during the past 24 hours, the temporary shelters will also open tonight, according to the city.
“In my experience, we fill up,” said Amber Gladney, a community connections facilitator at Catholic Charities Spokane-run House of Charity downtown. “It would be wonderful if we had enough funding to do this on a more regular basis.”
Arctic air descending from Canada is settling over the Columbia Basin, causing daytime highs to stick in the teens to low 20s early this week, said Matt Fugazzi, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
“We are looking at probably our coldest temperatures of the season this far,” he said.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrants may expect sunny but chilly weather today, with a projected high of about 18 degrees and winds between 3 and 6 mph.
The weather service forecasts a high of about 19 for Tuesday but expects subzero temperatures Tuesday and Wednesday mornings for northern valleys and other areas sheltered from wind, including areas of North Idaho.
Idaho State Police dispatchers reported a fatality accident Sunday afternoon near Highway 95 and Highway 66 but provided no further details about the incident Sunday night because family members hadn’t been notified.
Poor visibility and drifting snow closed Highway 27 south of Spokane Valley between Fairfield and Latah Sunday afternoon, according to the Washington state Department of Transportation. Closed between mileposts 58 and 66, the highway is scheduled to reopen by 11:45 a.m. today.
Many roads in northeast Lincoln County were not passable Sunday night, a county sheriff’s dispatcher reported.
The weather service had expected winds of 30 to 35 mph in Spokane, Pullman and Deer Park and gusts as fast as 45 mph in the Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene areas on Sunday.
Newman Lake resident Wanda Hoadley heard an evergreen tree off her back deck snap about 8:30 a.m. The top portion damaged the outside of her upstairs bathroom and fell on a woodshed, she said. It also nearly destroyed her neighbor’s deck and hit his house.
But the damage wasn’t as bad as last year, when trees from a mid-December windstorm struck nearby cabins.
“Last year, the tree came right through the living room,” the 71-year-old said.