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Snow record falls; drivers slide along

Wed., Dec. 1, 2010

High snow berms cover the center of Sherman Avenue in Coeur d’Alene as drivers brave the snowy roadways Tuesday.  (Kathy Plonka)
High snow berms cover the center of Sherman Avenue in Coeur d’Alene as drivers brave the snowy roadways Tuesday. (Kathy Plonka)

Slippery roads cause several brief closures

It’s one for the record books.

Tuesday’s snowstorm dumped 5.1 inches of snow at Spokane International Airport, making this the snowiest November on record, according to the National Weather Service. The month’s total as of 10 p.m. was 25.7 inches, which easily surpassed the record of 24.7 inches set in 1955.

Inland Northwest drivers encountered fairly good road conditions during the daylight portion of Tuesday’s snowstorm, but things got messy as darkness arrived.

One midafternoon slide-out forced a temporary closure of Hatch Road south of 57th Avenue. Police stopped drivers until traction sand was applied. On state Highway 291 near Suncrest, drivers were stopped at the bottom of the Big Sandy hill and allowed to proceed one at a time.Temperatures rose to freezing or just below during daylight hours, and most arterial travel lanes were wet with slush and some ice.

The rate of snowfall in the Spokane area started to pick up about 1:30 p.m., but roads stayed initially clear in the downtown area and on Interstate 90.

About 3 p.m., I-90 traffic at the Sunset Hill and U.S. Highway 2 interchange slowed and became congested.

Some rural school districts, including Colville, Freeman, Mary Walker, Sprague Lamont, Ritzville, Colton and Colfax, announced delayed starts for today.

Meanwhile, the city of Spokane declared another Stage 1 Snow Emergency, meaning plows will concentrate on primary and secondary arterials. The city also reminds residents they are responsible for removing snow from sidewalks adjacent to their property.

National Weather Service forecasters said they expect snow today through 10 a.m., with a high of 35 in the downtown area.

Snow will persist until afternoon at elevations above downtown Spokane as well as the Liberty Lake and Post Falls areas.

There is a slight chance of rain and snow showers after that.

Coeur d’Alene should see all snow and a high of 36.

At Snoqualmie Pass, the state required chains or all-wheel drive on all vehicles, and oversized vehicles were prohibited.

Washington state highways 194 from Almota to Colfax; 272 from Colfax to Palouse and the Idaho state line; and 23 from Whitman to Lincoln counties were all closed Tuesday afternoon because of blowing and drifting snow.

Snow is likely again on Thursday, with accumulations of 1 to 3 inches possible in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas and greater accumulations in the central Panhandle and Palouse areas.

In Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, the parade of storms should ease off on Friday through the weekend, although chances for snow showers remain in the forecast.

Saturday’s Apple Cup in Pullman has a 20 percent chance of snow showers and a high near 25.

Snowfall chances go up again Monday night and Tuesday.

Highs go from the mid-30s on Thursday to lower 30s on Friday to mid-20s on Sunday. Lows go from the upper 20s to the teens over the weekend.

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