January 3, 2009 in City

Cold coming after snow

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The National Weather Service warned of continued cold today after the thermometer went into freefall Friday afternoon. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for Sunday night and Monday morning, when another 6 inches of snow could fall in Spokane with 8 inches possible in Coeur d’Alene.

About 4 to 5 inches of snow fell across Spokane early Friday, bringing the season’s total to 69 inches so far with more snow on the way Sunday. Up to 10 inches fell in parts of North Idaho.

A high of 35 degrees this morning may seem balmy compared with a low of minus-2 degrees forecast for Spokane tonight. Wind chills today could drop as the cold front is accompanied by winds with gusts to 36 mph. Lighter winds are expected tonight.

With the predicted cold, the city of Spokane this morning announced that it was opening three shelters for expanded overnight use to help homeless get out of the cold.

Drivers were having trouble negotiating the layer of thick, heavy snow that left arterials once again choked or glazed and slow-going, although plows and de-icer had gotten the busiest streets back in good condition by noon.

Earlier today, the city of Spokane ordered all tractor-trailer trucks to chain up on city streets until 7 p.m.

Compact snow and ice was common on area roadways early in the day, and traffic was moving on Interstate 90 in some spots at about 35 mph.

The northbound lanes of Argonne Road hill south of Bigelow Gulch Road were partially blocked from a jack-knifed tractor-trailer truck about 7 a.m., but was reopened by 7:45 a.m. Sheriff’s deputies were requiring chains on the combination rigs. Motorists continued having problems negotiating the hill even after a plow was called to clear the way.

Traffic on Monroe Street going up the South Hill was blocked by vehicles about 8 a.m.

A vehicle had spun out on I-90 at the Medical Lake interchange in the westbound lanes about 9 a.m.

A rollover accident was reported at the Garden Springs exit on I-90 early this afternoon.

Another accident was reported at mid-afternoon at U.S. Highway 195 and Hatch Road.

Avista this morning reported numerous power outages throughout the region.

Another round of moderate to heavy snow could come on Sunday as temperatures remain below normal through the weekend, forecasters said.

Five inches of new snow fell at the weather service office as of this morning. Spokane International Airport had 3.4 inches.

On Thursday, the weather service reported 22 inches of snow on the ground at their office northwest of Airway Heights. The snowpack had a water equivalent of 3.62 inches and weighed 19 pounds per square foot. Residential roofs are capable of holding at least 30 pounds per square foot, and also have the ability to drain water during periods of above-freezing temperatures such as those on Thursday.

A trained weather spotter living near Spirit Lake in Bonner County reported a foot of new snow this morning. Other spotter reports showed amounts ranging from 7 to 10 inches elsewhere south of Sandpoint.

Looking ahead, forecaster Matt Fugazzi said more snow is on the way Sunday, but after that the parade of storms could relent. A storm that computers show arriving on Tuesday may be mild enough to push snow levels into the mountains.

Then, the focus of the storm track may shift northward into British Columbia, reducing the intensity of systems over the Inland Northwest and leading to the chance of rain in the valleys with snow in the mountains.

But any break from the snow could be short lived. “This still is winter,” Fugazzi said.


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