A strong arctic air mass was moving south from Alaska and Canada and expected to arrive in the Inland Northwest today.
Lows could dip to a few degrees above zero in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene on Sunday and Monday nights, with below-zero readings possible to the north. Gusty winds from the east to northeast are expected to start later today and Sunday.
The cold should hang over the region through the end of next week, the National Weather Service said.
Daytime highs Monday could be a frigid 12 degrees in downtown Spokane and 10 in Coeur d’Alene before rebounding to the teens Tuesday.
The arctic front is carrying only small amounts of precipitation. “The risk of snow isn’t that great,” said forecaster Mike Fries. Officially, the chance of snow today is 20 percent across the region.
Sustained winds with gusts to 26 mph are expected in Spokane starting tonight, with gusts to 30 mph on Sunday. Winds should be a little less intense in Coeur d’Alene.
The combination of low temperature and wind could become dangerous, forecasters said.
In Coeur d’Alene, a low tonight of 14 and winds from the east gusting to 25 mph could create a wind chill factor – the temperature felt on exposed human skin – of minus 3 degrees.
Spokane city officials recommended that residents protect their homes’ pipes from freezing.
Emergency warming centers for homeless people in Spokane have been put on alert to be opened. Centers in Coeur d’Alene have announced plans to be open through Tuesday.
The cold follows a round of light snow and freezing fog in the Spokane area Friday morning.