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Snow kidding: Mini-storm whitens North Side

Tue., April 14, 2009, 5:19 p.m.

A mini-storm dropped up to a foot of snow across Spokane’s North Side on Tuesday morning but barely touched areas to the east, south and west.

The storm formed north of downtown about 3 a.m. and drifted to the north and west, allowing snow to accumulate in unusual amounts for mid-April.

A National Weather Service employee who lives on Five Mile Prairie north of downtown measured 7 inches of snow by about 6:30 a.m. About 80 minutes later, another 5 inches had fallen, said Steven Van Horn, weather service meteorologist.

Areas including the Garland District, Francis Avenue, Indian Trail and Five Mile areas saw 2 or more inches.

The snowfall didn’t affect the seasonal snowfall record in Spokane, which remained at 97.7 inches at Spokane International Airport after being broken earlier this month. No measurable snow was reported at the airport Tuesday morning.

“It was a very, very local swirl that was over the Spokane area,” forecaster Jeremy Wolf said.

The storm extended west to Rambo Road, where it left a dusting at the National Weather Service office northwest of Airway Heights. Spokane Valley and parts of the South Hill saw small amounts, officials said.

In North Idaho, about 2 inches was reported at Spirit Lake and less near Post Falls. In Bonner County, about 1 inch fell in Priest River overnight, and late last night there was 3 inches of snow in the vicinity of Hope.

The storm apparently was created from an upward rotation in the atmosphere caused by instability under a cold low-pressure area, a mechanism known as “vorticity,” Van Horn said.

Although unusual, such storms have happened in the recent past. On May 7, 2002, a similar storm dropped 19 inches in Reardan.

The morning commute became treacherous where accumulations were the heaviest.

State Highway 291 was closed for about two hours between Nine Mile Falls Dam and Suncrest after snow and ice over the highway caused slide-offs on Big Sandy Hill.

The storm also triggered accidents on Country Homes Boulevard early Tuesday. A three-car accident was reported on Rutter Parkway one mile west of Waikiki Road. The northbound lanes of U.S. Highway 395 north of the Wandermere bridge were blocked after accidents.

A warm-up is expected starting today as temperatures rebound to the upper 50s and rise to the 60s on Thursday through Saturday. Highs near 75 are expected Sunday.

Mike Prager can be reached at (509) 459-5454 or by e-mail at

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