Temperatures of 15 to 20 degrees below normal for late April are keeping a spring chill in the air today, and chance of snow showers on the valley floors in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas is possible tonight, forecasters said.
A strong low pressure system in the upper atmosphere over the Pacific Northwest is circulating cold northerly air into the region, and is causing rain or snow across portions of the Inland Northwest.
Light snow and fog were reported in Pullman and across other portions of the Palouse north of Lewiston, forecasters said. Moderate snow was reported at Lookout Pass on Interstate 90.
Strong winds are being reported in North Idaho from Sandpoint to Post Falls through the Purcell Trench and across the Rathdrum Prairie, land features that provide an opening for north and northeast wind to funnel into the region. Gusts up to 40 mph and sustained winds at 33 mph were clocked at Sandpoint while the winds were peaking at 33 mph in Post Falls and 30 mph at the Coeur d’Alene Airport.
In Spokane, gusts as high as 36 mph were reported at Felts Field.
In the Palouse region, snow has been falling as low as 2,000 feet in elevation under a band of moisture circulating northward on a return flow aloft from a low pressure area centered over Hells Canyon on the Snake River.
Other bands of moisture were moving across the lower Columbia Basin, and radar showed precipitation in mountains to the north of Spokane.
The predicted high in Coeur d’Alene today is only 43 degrees; Spokane should be slightly warmer, about 46 degrees. The chance of rain or snow showers was increased from 50 percent to 80 percent today. The average high for this time of year in Spokane is 61.
Mountain areas above 4,000 feet could see 3 to 6 inches of snow with lighter amounts in the Blue Mountains to the south.
The snow level could drop to 2,000 feet tonight in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas, which includes much of the Spokane River Valley from Spokane upstream into North Idaho. The snow level today near the urban areas was 3,500 feet.
Cool, showery weather remains in the forecast through Wednesday. On Thursday, milder weather is expected with highs possibly reaching 60. Friday and Saturday should be even warmer as the low that’s bringing brisk conditions today leaves the region.
At 7 a.m., temperatures were running in the 30s across the region with 39 at Spokane International Airport and Coeur d’Alene Airport and 37 at Sandpoint and Pullman.
Monday’s high in Spokane was 53.