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March freeze, 2 degrees

Wed., March 11, 2009, 7:24 a.m.

A low of 2 degrees this morning at Spokane International Airport set a new daily record for the city, and temperatures elsewhere across the region at daybreak were as cold or colder.

The previous record of 5 degrees came on March 11, 1950.

The low temperature was reached about 6 a.m. through 7 a.m. Within an hour of sunrise, the thermometer started a slow climb. It was 3 degrees at 8 a.m. and 11 degrees by 10 a.m. at the airport.

Around the region at 7 a.m., temperatures were 9 in Pullman, 5 in Coeur d’Alene, minus-1 at Stateline, 3 at Felts Field, minus-1 at Deer Park, 8 at Bonners Ferry and 0 at Sandpoint.

Forecasters called for highs in the mid-20s today with another cold night of about 10 degrees in the Spokane area. Temperatures are expected to moderate into the 30s on Thursday with sunny skies and into the 40s on Friday and Saturday. Lows should warm by 10 degrees each night. A chance of rain or snow is expected Saturday and Sunday.

The cold weather has caused the city of Spokane to reopen two warming centers for homeless persons tonight at the House of Charity for single men and the Salvation Army for families and couples. It is the third night that the city has activated emergency warming shelters because of forecasted lows of 15 degrees or colder.

Relief from the wintry cold is in sight. The forecast for Monday and Tuesday shows a continuation of the warming trend with a high of 53 on Tuesday in Spokane with a chance of rain and mostly cloudy both days.

The normal temperatures in Spokane for this time of year are 47 for a high and 29 for a low.

Snow earlier in the week pushed Spokane’s season total to 88.9 inches, making the winter of 2008-2009 the fourth snowiest on record since 1881. The snowiest winter was in 1949-1950, the same year that last saw such severe cold on March 10 and 11.

The snowfall records are 93.5 inches in 1949-1950; 92.6 in 2007-2008; and 89.0 in 1974-1975. Record keeping began in 1881.

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