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Snow level at 2,200 feet; light amounts tonight

Wed., Dec. 1, 2010, 8 a.m.

Snowfall record reaches 25.9 inches in November

The latest forecast from the National Weather Service is calling for a likelihood of rain or snow tonight with the snow level expected to be about 2,200 feet.

The chance of a half inch or more of snow returns to the region on Thursday and Thursday night, and then the weather quiets down on Friday evening through Monday.

At 3 p.m., the airport was reporting fog and a temperature of 35.

Tonight, less than a half inch of snow is expected above 2,200 feet. Downtown Spokane is at 1,850 feet, Spokane International Airport is at 2,372 feet and Coeur d’Alene at 2,215 feet.

Three to five feet of snowfall in the mountains of North Idaho is currently considered to be unstable, and outdoor enthusiasts were being asked to use caution near steep, snow-covered slopes for the next two days, according to the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.

A total of 25.9 inches of snow fell at Spokane airport during the November, breaking the record of 24.7 inches set in 1955.

The 5.3 inches of snow at the airport on Tuesday pushed the city to the record.

Drivers this morning were negotiating a tricky combination of slush, compact snow, ice and water on area roadways, and in some places, not successfully.

In the Post Falls area, emergency crews were called to an accident involving several vehicles five miles east of State Line in the westbound lanes of Interstate 90 just before 8 a.m.

One vehicle rolled over and six others slid off to avoid the accident on the curving railroad overpass there.

An Idaho Transportation Department camera showed that the vehicles were off to the shoulder and traffic was proceeding through the area under caution.

Numerous other accidents, mainly slide offs, were reported.

State Highway 23 from Whitman to Lincoln counties was reopened this morning after drifting snow closed the route on Tuesday afternoon.

Avista Utilities reported about 1,000 customers without power, including more than 600 in Kellogg and 155 in Davenport. Another 80 or so outages were being worked in Spokane.

Kootenai Electric Cooperative reported that about 200 customers in Kootenai County were without power early this morning after heavy snow took out power lines.

Spokane street crews returned to stage 1 operations, working on arterials and emergency and bus routes to get them cleared of the hard-packed crust of ice chunks that formed during heavy snowfall Tuesday afternoon. Vehicles must be removed from those streets.

In Spokane Valley, crews had completed residential plowing before Tuesday’s storm forced them to return to arterial and emergency routes where they were mainly working this morning, a spokeswoman said.

Outside of Spokane, snowfall reports had 9.5 inches in Clayton northwest of Deer Park, 7.5 inches of snow northwest of Coeur d’Alene, 10 inches northeast of Sandpoint and 8 inches near Rathdrum.

Forecasters said they expect a 40 percent chance of snow showers today and tonight with a high of 33 in downtown Spokane and 35 in Coeur d’Alene.

The chances of snow increases to 60 percent Thursday and 70 percent Thursday night, but accumulations should be around an inch or a bit more.

Thursday’s highs will be just above freezing in the urban areas.

Then, snowfall risks decline to 30 percent on Friday and the weather calms down and turns colder over the weekend with clouds and highs going from 30 on Friday to the middle 20s on Saturday and Sunday.

Lows during the period will go from 30 tonight to the 20s on Thursday and Friday nights to about 15 on Saturday night.

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