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Winter weather advisory issued for tonight

Sat., March 28, 2009, 5:24 p.m.

Rain has been turning to snow in some parts of the Inland Northwest, and forecaster said the switch to frozen precipitation should continue through this evening to become all snow after 11 p.m.

At 9:30 p.m. today, light snow was being reported at Spokane International Airport.

The National Weather Service said 2 inches of wet snow had already fallen in areas of the Palouse and central Idaho Panhandle mountains.

Forecasts for tonight and Sunday call for the possibility of 1 to 3 inches of precipitation in the valleys. Three to 6 inches of snow are forecast in the mountains of Northeast Washington and far North Idaho.

A winter weather advisory was upgraded this evening to a winter storm warning for Whitman County for 3 to 6 inches of snow above 2,500 feet elevation and 1 to 3 inches below that through 2 p.m. Sunday. Pullman is at 2,550 feet.

A less-severe winter weather advisory was in effect through 11 a.m. Sunday for other portions of eastern Washington, including Spokane and Coeur d’Alene where temperatures were running from 34 to 36 degrees at 8:30 p.m.

Snow levels could drop as low as 1,900 feet in elevation tonight in valley areas around Spokane and Coeur d’Alene and then as low as 1,600 feet during the early hours Sunday. Downtown Spokane is about 1,900 feet while the Spokane Valley east of Argonne Road is at 2,000 feet. Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls are at 2,200 feet. Snow is expected mainly south of the latitude of Colville and Sandpoint.

Snow should return to rain by 11 a.m. on Sunday. A high of 41 in Spokane is expected Sunday, which is well below normal of 52 for the end of March. The record high for Sunday in Spokane is 70 degrees.

This latest storm will be accompanied on by strengthening and gusty west winds Sunday, producing blowing snow mainly in the mountains. Travelers along Interstate 90 from Osburn to the Montana border should check road conditions before heading out.

A wind advisory was in effect for gusts to 55 mph in the Columbia Basin areas from Oregon northward to the Coulee Dam area.

Shoshone County, Benewah, Kootenai and Latah counties were also under a winter storm warning for 8 to 15 inches in the mountains and 5 to 9 inches in the lower elevations there through Sunday morning.

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