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Arctic cold exiting; rain or snow Saturday

Arctic cold has started to loosen its hold on the Inland Northwest this morning, and forecasters said a change is due starting tonight.

At 7 a.m. this morning, Spokane International Airport had a temperature of 19 degrees, which was about 10 degrees warmer than on Thursday morning.

Elsewhere, Cheney was at 15; Coeur d’Alene, 18; Pullman, 25; Sandpoint, 9; Bonners Ferry, 15; Felts Field, 19; Stateline, 16; and Deer Park, 5.

Today is going to remain bright and cool initially as a new low pressure system develops offshore and approaches the region from the coast of British Columbia. Waves of moist air will initially show up as high-elevation cirrus clouds, and the remnants of the dry arctic air below it will prevent precipitation today, forecasters said.

That system, circulating off lower pressure in the upper atmosphere, is expected to strengthen and send a series of storm impulses inland starting on Saturday when rain or snow are likely, depending on elevation. The weather continues to warm into early next week with rain in the forecast.

The mountains could receive substantial precipitation over the next several days, forecasters said. Highs are forecast to be in the 40s today through Tuesday with a low tonight of 24.

The snow level Saturday starts out at 2,200 feet and then rises to 2,800 feet at mid-day, then drops to 2,300 feet early Sunday before going back up to 3,200 feet later in the day, forecasters said.

Stateline and Coeur d’Alene are at 2,200 feet. Felts Field is at 1,950 feet. The airport in Spokane is at 2,370 feet.

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