The cold northerly flow that’s whipped up dust, set records for cold and damaged fruit crops is being replaced tonight by a more typical kind of fall weather – rain.
Increasing clouds are in the forecast as a moist Pacific storm system approaches the region from the southwest carrying the potential for soaking rain by tonight.
The National Weather Service said there is a small chance that some precipitation could be frozen during the first part of the day today. The air is so dry that evaporation could cool the atmosphere enough to bring sleet or light snow, especially in the northern valleys of northeast Washington and North Idaho, forecasters said.
A band of precipitation was showing up on radar in south-central Washington at 11 a.m. but may not be reaching the ground because of evaporation in the dry air.
The weather service late this morning said light snow, sleet or freezing rain was possible starting at 11:30 a.m. through 12:30 p.m. in the Wenatchee and Waterville areas along with the eastern slopes of the Cascades and other portions of the Columbia Basin.
Cloudy conditions were reported at locations east of the Cascades in Washington at 11 a.m.
Light snow was reported in The Dalles, Ore., and light rain in Hermiston and Pendleton at 11 a.m.
In Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, a 30 percent chance of rain is being forecast for today with light northeast winds and a high in the middle 40s.
Early today, rain was falling in western and central Oregon. The heaviest rain this morning was in northern California.
As the storm moves northward, the chance of rain tonight is 100 percent with a low of 38. Rain continues on Wednesday before changing to showers on Thursday and Friday as a series of disturbances rotates around a broad low pressure system that anchors off shore for the next several days.
The low is expected to gather moisture from a tropical storm that had been pumping wet weather northward in the western Pacific earlier this week. The moisture was being pushed eastward across the ocean beneath a strong west-to-east jet stream of upper air.
It will be the first measureable rain in Spokane since Sept. 17.
The mountains should see rising snow levels this week.
Highs go into the middle and upper 50s on Wednesday and Thursday. As the air dries out on Friday, a high of 65 is possible with cloudy skies.
Because the parent low area remains off Vancouver Island, high winds are not expected in the Inland Northwest during the period of storms this week.
A chance of rain or showers continues through the weekend with highs near 60, which is more typical for mid-October.
At 7 a.m., temperatures were mainly above freezing with 34 at Spokane International Airport, Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint and 33 at Felts Field. Pullman was 39.
On Monday, Spokane had a low of 20 and a high of 40. Those temperatures are well below the normal temperatures for mid-October of 61 for a high and 37 for a low.